Expect the differences. You're two different people. Love doesn't (and shouldn't) make a clone out of you.

It can be difficult to fathom another person’s thinking and behaviour when it seems alien to the way that you think and act. You may feel that if you had certain conditions such as an environment where you had the security of the love and trust of another person, that you would be loving, loyal and trustworthy in return. Of course what’s critical to remember here is that the world isn’t full of replicas of you. Knowing what you would be and do, tells you about your values. A person is separate to you and an individual entity with their own experiences, thoughts, opinions, feelings, motivations, fears, habits, needs, expectations, and wants. This is the case whether you’re in a healthy relationship or not.

When you’re shocked that they’re not you (or similar), you’re operating with the underlying belief that people you love (and who claim to love you) are the same or that they should be making the changes in order to be. When we have over-empathetic inclinations, we try to think, feel, and act as they do even if it isn’t our true position. If you’re bewildered by what amounts to differences between you and another person, this merging of the two of you means that on some level, there’s the expectation that they should be trying to think, feel, and act as you do…. even if it’s not their true position.

It’s difficult when you’re loyal (even if it’s to a fault) and you do your best to be trustworthy, trusting and of course loving to another person and they in turn say that they are these things too but yet their actions say otherwise and leave you feeling betrayed. When push comes to shove, something else always comes along to push their trustworthiness and loyalty values lower down the pecking order.

It’s not necessarily that they don’t value loyalty and trustworthiness – they just don’t value it to the same degree as you do or as much as they say that they do. When they’re faced with an opportunity or a threat (real or imagined), other personal values take priority. They’re temporarily blinded. Short-term thinkers aren’t rooted in their values or the medium to long-term hence they can do something with a view to temporarily (even if they don’t realise it) extending the enjoyment of a feeling or avoiding a feeling. This causes them to do things in the moment that don’t reflect their wider concerns, values, their character, or even commitments that they’ve made to others.

If a person is used to telling people what they want to hear and playing down their feelings out of fear of ‘negative consequences’ such as reactions and conflict, they may talk about wanting and needing the same things that you do and feeling similarly to you but they either haven’t learned the value of loyalty and trustworthiness or they inadvertently have bigger priorities. Some people get so used to avoiding certain things and not really knowing what they feel or think that they may be entirely unaware of the conflicts between their actions, words, and professed values as well as the impact of their behaviour on others… and yet still feel entitled to your love, loyalty and trust.

In the end, there’s no point in either of you saying that you’re the same when you’re not because your respective differences are self-evident when one or both of you are willing to have a very honest conversation with yourselves and with each other.

It’s pretty difficult to form a common ground with somebody when one or both of you won’t recognise those differences or is unwilling to be responsible for doing their own individual work on their personal growth and is instead just expecting the other to change, or to be worn down enough to continue tolerating what may be very painful behaviour and experiences.

When a person keeps on insisting that they’re certain things or just expects that you’ll put the expectation of their better behaviour on layaway for the future, they have the underlying and aggressive belief that people who love them should always accept their behaviour even if it’s less than acceptable and actually less than reflective of what they’ve said they’ll be and do. It’s as if they think there’s no ‘statute of limitations’ and reject experiencing natural consequences and probably won’t if you try to get a Ph.D in trying to figure them out and why they’re not being ‘like you’. They won’t be honest about why they breach your trust and yet you’re supposed to take the feelings and opinions they won’t voice into account and even deprioritise your own.

The important thing for you is to not continue to be bewildered by differences. Affirming to yourself that ‘We are different people‘, is a starting point for greater understanding of each of you because ultimately, telling yourself that you ‘should’ be the same or that they ‘should’ change is only going to keep you stuck and compromising yourself or even crossing their boundaries in your efforts to change their values.

Your thoughts?

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112 Responses to Don’t be bewildered by why somebody doesn’t think and act as you do – you’re very different individual entities

  1. cherry McGee says:

    You seem to read my mind you wise old soul. Thanks so much for your effort and thought you put into each post!

  2. Michele says:

    Natalie, you and this site never cease to amaze me. I have read your posts on numerous occasions and felt like they were written specifically for me just when I needed them. Today is no exception. I simply cannot thank you enough for the insights I have gained from your articles. Helps a great deal to realize I am not alone in my thoughts and issues. Still a work in progress, but I refer to your words often. Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do.

  3. Karen says:

    Ahh. This makes sense. Marital fidelity is a core value to me and I rarely make snap decisions on the fly. My ex thinks she can cheat but she was jealous and made veiled threats if I (the other woman) went near an available woman. She also made the stupidest, least thought out decisions that were always unilateral and always effed up.
    Okay, maybe we were both right, just different. If that’s the case I’m glad I’m the faithful one who makes sound decisions.

  4. Swissmiss says:

    Haven’t posted in a long time, catching up on the BC archive. This post hits home.

    The ex-MM asked to meet me after six months of NC. I thought long and hard about what I would want out of it. I didn’t want him, but I was curious to see what he would say. I had no expectations.

    Initially it was very emotional. We then settled down, clearing up past misunderstandings. He said a lot of things that I didn’t bother challenging…I was there for my benefit, not his. I saw what a fantasy I created. I was aware of the points my therapist had made about trying to heal childhood wounds. I didn’t look to him to do it. He was depleted of the magical powers i had given him. He wanted to continue contact and I said no, I had moved on, which he accepted.

    Since then (last week) there have been a few flattering emails and calls, which I did not answer. I immediately went into Colombo mode, ‘What do these mean?’

    But reading this tonite, I see he is different from me. That doesn’t mean I have to figure out why he is busting boundaries. I don’t have to chat with friends about it. His values are different. All I need to know is that I want nothing to do with.

  5. Karen says:

    P.S. After reading your wonderful post, I forwarded to the ex and told her where she could shove her half assed, hidden agenda friendship offer. I can do better with a shower massage and a clear conscience.

  6. Samantha C says:

    Can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your blog and book. I am learning a lot about myself and what I deserve and will give.

  7. Crazybaby says:

    What drives me nuts is when someone behaves a certain way that’s dishonest or unkind or whatever, and they totally justify their behaviour to themselves and others, and yet when someone does anything remotely similar back to them, they are outraged.

    You can’t even point out the irony of it to them because they can’t / won’t see it.

    How are you supposed to deal with people like this?

    • Tinkerbell says:


      Oftentimes, people who are overly sensitive themselves will be extremely callous and disregard other people’s feelings. And then when you commit the slightest infraction with them they become furious. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer except get rid of them if it bothers you that much. But, you’ll be getting rid of a lot of people because there are a helluva lot of people like that in the world. The other thing is calmly reasoning with them, but that may not work either. I don’t think ignoring the situation, if it’s repeated is advisable because then you’re busting your own boundaries.

  8. ShepN7 says:

    My values and beliefs are taking a hit over time. I believe that people can genuinely care about me and I them, because it has happened before. I also believe in asking people what is going on if there seems to be a problem or confusion. I try to be mindful of not letting others’ perception define the reality. This last is hard.

    A source of accumulated pain over time is people saying one thing and doing another. It makes me (feel) crazy. If they want to be friends, why talk about it instead of doing it?? What do I do with these people, cut them off? I expect some will say yes but I also wonder if there are people in the world that don’t have to be shown the door due to poor communication and where they are, because I’d like to meet them.

  9. Chez says:

    Wow! Every single post is so true and thought provoking.Thanks to you I have come from a heartbreaking relationship with an Ac and found somebody whose actions and words match. I have learnt what a loving true relationship is. I found your site when I was totally blindsided and devastated. I learnt so much from your insights and did the work and attracted the most loving man into my life. There is better out there and we all deserve a relationship built on truth, loyalty and commitment once we do the work on ourselves and believe that we deserve better. There is so much better out there after an AC. Thx so much Natalie!

  10. Belinda says:

    Wise words at a time I really need to hear them. Thank you so much for your site. You have helped me through a very painful divorce.

  11. Tabitha says:

    Thanks again Natalie. I have been having problems with my relationship with my teenage daughter who seems to absolutely hate me and everything about me.
    I am continually perplexed by her behaviour as he point of view is so polarised from mine. Reading your post made me see that my tendency to over empathise conflicts with her total lack of empathy. My strong desire for independence is totally at odds with her “holding hand out, world owes me a living” attitude. I don’t think we will ever understand each other but of course we are just very different people. I am so sad that although I love her so much, I do not like the person she is becoming.
    However, thanks to your post I can see that it is good that she feels able to demonstrate that she is so different from me, as otherwise she would just be some people pleasing doormat, unable to express her real character. I am trying to be proud of the fact that I have managed to raise a child who is Ok with being who she is despite the disapproval she gets from me.
    I have to learn how to separate my feelings so that I only respond when her behaviour directly affects me, rather than when it is just generally opposite to what I would do.
    It is very difficult though living with someone and loving someone who is that negative, critical and selfish. Oh, and no, she won’t grow out of it. She is the exact replica of my mother. Maybe that is what hurts the most. I escaped that abusive relationship by being NC but my daughter has just taken her place. Life sucks sometimes!

    • Tinkerbell says:


      She is your only child? You know teenagers go through these stages in which they hate their parents because they can’t get theme to agree and allow everything they (the teen) wants. Of course, I could be wrong, but imo it’s just a stage that will pas. She is growing up. Accept that she is no more a little girl and as long as she is not disrespectful, give her space to be who SHE is, unlike you. I can’t really speak from experience because I was very lucky not to have witnessed these problems with my one and only daughter. She’s always been quiet, sweet and mature for her years. Lucky me. But, I know this is a common complaint among other parents. And, girls seem to be more trouble than boys. You don’t think she will grow out of this, but I think she will to a certain extent. At least it won’t always be this bad. Good luck, and try not to let this get you down. It’ll pass.

      • Tabitha says:

        Thanks so much Tink. I also have a 13 year old son but he is just much easier for me to understand and he doesn’t constantly criticise me and put me down like my daughter does. It is a wonder I have any self esteem at all living with her constant negativity.
        I really truly would love to be wrong and hope that she will mature and change but my mother never has. In fact she has got worse with age.
        I am ashamed to admit it but my daughter cyber bullies vulnerable kids and stuff like that. It makes me feel ill and I tell her how wrong it is but she laughs it off and says I have “no sense of humour and it’s all just a joke.” I sometimes do not know how I created such a child. Then I look at my mother and I see how alike they are and it terrifies me.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Well, Tabitha,

          I guess likeness skipped a generation. I’m not at all surprised that your son is not causing you behavioral problems. Like I said, girls are harder. There’s a kind of competitiveness between young girls and their mothers. I’m sure it’s in a psych book or somewhere documented, because I’ve heard of it several times. Perhaps you can go to the library or do some research to see what you can find about handling this situation. There’s nothing wrong with getting help if you think it’s serious enough. Good luck. I can understand if you want to be on top of the situation before it gets any worse.

        • grace says:

          Confiscate her computer/phone? Ground her? There have to be consequences for this. She’s very young and lengthy adult explanations may not be appropriate. She’s not your mother.
          Lots of love, and praise for the things she does right.

          • grace says:

            Ps This may help, I’m not saying this is you and your daughter but you’re not the only one

            • Tabitha says:

              Thanks Grace. Yes I saw this on the news and it is a sobering thought. My DD isn’t violent, but she is verbally and emotionally abusive. You are correct about the way I speak to her which is probably too adult. It’s exactly like Natalie says, I have to accept that she is not me. At her age I was very adult because I had to be. I had been working part time since the age of 14 as I was so desparate to be independent of my narc mother. When I explain to my daughter that her behaviour toward me or others is abusive she laughs and says it’s ” a load of crap and abuse can only ever by physical.” I think because she has no thought for others feelings she just cannot get that they are hurt by her actions and words.
              I do not pay for her phone or the contract so if I took it away she would just call the police and I would be arrested for theft so that is not an option. In any case I believe the calls are made from her mates phone as she has a “number withheld” option.
              I believe things have calmed down since she started college this term. Also, a girl she had bullied by making horrible “prank calls” to stood up to her at an end of term party and actually took my daughters phone off her for several hours, claiming she didn’t know what had happened to it. When my daughter told me I said “Good, perhaps that will teach you not to be so damn nasty.”I have also told her the calls are illegal but again she just laughs it all off.
              I worry that she will end up like my mother, friendless, bitter and angry, with no idea why, because she has no empathy and just sees other people as tools. I do love her and I want her to be happy. I guess I have to just accept that this is how she is.

              • Tinkerbell says:


                Oh! Now, she’s more of a behavioral problem than I thought. Yes, Grace’s suggestion has merit. And, “started college?” I thought she was only 15 or so. Oh no, no, no. Where does she get off disrespecting you like that? And thinking everything is so funny? This is more serious, now, for her to be exhibiting that kind of behavior at her age. And next time it comes up, let know she’s not smarter than you because you have age and experience. Tell her, too” “If you were so smart you would know that abuse comes in many forms besides just physical”. You are guilty as accused.” She needs to get a job since she’s so grown. You’ll have to take a much stricter approach, Tabitha. I’m sorry.

    • Jule says:

      I can very much relate. One of my daughters is someone that I really wouldn’t be friends with if I was given the chance. And she is very much like her verbally abusive father who I divorced to get away from. We can’t divorce our kids. However, in the past year, there has been a slight shift with some maturity and so I hold out some hope. Teen girls are tough. It’s a rough time for ANY household. I think that girls in general do move far from their mother’s guidance in order to establish their own life and independence and yes some of it is a phase. You may think she is going to be this awful and different for the rest of her life, and she may be partly that way in years to come, but she will also grow and mature. This is especially true when they go out into the world and get knocked down a few pegs by life and circumstances. They see that maybe mom wasn’t so stupid after all. I have more than one daughter and have been down the road of “I hate you mom, I never want to see you again. You are the worst mom ever. I can’t wait until I can move out and never see you again” all at the top of her lungs, (but I could still hear my heart break over her screaming). It does get better and they do come around. But maybe she won’t be the person you will want to see every day in the future, and that’s ok. They are a culmination of the world around them — their friends, their environment, the media, etc, not just us.

  12. At Peace says:

    Another great post as usual Nat!

    This is a lesson that took me a while to learn. Once I did learn it, I have been saving myself a lot of unnecessary grief and heartache. I still struggle with the old “I don’t understand why this person is saying or do xyz because I would never behave that way.” The bottom line is not for me to try and understand why they are doing what they do; it’s to recognize that we have a Mars vs Venus situation going on and I need to look at how their behavior makes me feel (uncomfortable, disrespected, not valued, abused, etc., etc.) and act accordingly .

    Example: I just had new cabinets installed in my kitchen. The contractor gave me an additional bill with a list of items beyond the scope of the work. Some of the items we had agreed upon how much I would pay beforehand. A couple of the items he completed, but did not inform me of his labor cost until after he did the work. I was upset because I felt as though he was trying to take advantage of me, and I have refused to pay him for any additional work that he performed without getting my approval first. I made sure that I documented everything in writing just in case we have to go to court (CYA).

    In the past, I would not have stood up for myself and would have reluctantly paid the extra labor cost. I still feel somewhat uncomfortable as I do not like confrontation, but when people try to take advantage of me, I need to do what’s best for me… and that makes me feel empowered.

  13. Finally Free says:

    I really needed this today, thanks Nat! Feeling low about the EUM I was briefly seeing going back to his ex yet again after declaring it was over for good and he wanted to be with me. I get why he’s gone back, water seeks its own level, and she’s just as EU, unstable and deluded as he is. I don’t want him anymore, but why am I still hurting over it? This article helped me to see that although we probably did have the same values I thought we shared, they weren’t as important to him as other things, despite what he said. Mind you he was the “I love strawberry ice cream” at 12pm, “I’ve never really liked strawberry ice cream” at 3pm and “I don’t think I’ve ever tried strawberry ice cream” at 6pm type. I know I’m well shot of him, but I’m still hurting despite knowing all the practical stuff. Why??

  14. noquay says:

    One of the most important lessons I have learned from taking care of my dad and dealing with the few AC s that plagued my life over the past 35 years or so are that a. People aren’t logical, they’re often self contradicting and b. Most folks cannot empathize, put themselves in your shoes, even in a minor way and c. Most folks don’t do insight. Certainly with the AC, I was totally blindsided because I made the assumption that as he was fully my intellectual equal (at least here, very rare), and we did share so many values, that, like me, he would be sure that his feelings, words, and actions would be 100% in line. Wrong. With Noquay, touching someone at every opportunity, pursuing someone, wanting to have long conversations on social justice and enviro issues, asking someone to spend a weekend with you museum touring means I really care about you, am attracted to you, am in love with you, and enjoy your company. To him it meant: you are good enough to use for attention and ego strokes when the other woman isn’t around, your feelings mean nothing to me, and I will discard you as soon as it’s time to move on to the next victim. It is truly impossible to know what is happening in another persons mind. All I can do is be consistent in all feelings, actions, and words even though some will think me cold and unfeeling. Better that than give some poor soul encouragement, false hopes, where there shouldnt be any. I have also learned that people go to great lengths to hide their true intentions and to have zero expectations, hopes, practice detachment for a long time. Our first priority is protecting ourselves.

  15. Moving On says:

    Yet another great post. Nat, your site has really changed me and has started this soul searching journey I never endeared until about 5 months ago when I had the last straw (of many eum ac relationships) and had a relationship with the most eum person I have ever met. It was my much needed wake up call from god to realize to look at me and that it wasn’t just “bad luck”. I was always happy single and felt confident casually dating but as soon as I was in a serious relationship my boundaries went out the window and I was giving sacrificial love to selfish jerks that never truly loved me (with the exception of one good relationship). I got this from my relationship with my dad who was very selfish, verbally abusive, and controlling as a kid (he has now improved so much) and this has made me afraid to voice my needs to men. I now have not only had the discussion openly with my dad on how this affected me and had him apologize and acknowledge it (a huge break through) I have finally realized the meaning of “loving yourself”. I now feel like I can truly be more vulnerable with boundaries in place that give me a fence of security to let myself be happy and not fear love and being hurt/abandoned, because if you don’t truly love me you’re not FOR ME. It’s seeing things for what they are and really respecting my needs and making them a priority not sacrificing my happiness to keep a man. I really thank god for not only going through this awful relationship that opened my eyes but finding your site as a constant reminder of this amazing journey I have begun. I finally feel the one is out there and I finally get what my roadblock was for so long :)

    No more playing the victim

  16. Sandy says:

    I have been asking myself this same question over the last few days due to his constant contact when I have asked him not to, if he asked me not to contact him I would do it out of consideration for his feelings and I struggle to understand why he doesn’t see things my way. It hurts when you just start to move on, feel good and he contacts you again and bang back to thinking about him again, he is an abusive, selfish man, a prolific liar with no empathy, no true feelings for anybody but himself but it’s still hard when I am the exact opposite and always look for and try and see the good in people.
    I am so worried that I will never ever be able to trust in a relationship again and I don’t want to be that woman with the walls built so high that no one can climb over but I also don’t want to be that naïve, trusting woman either who just lies down and lets a man wipe his boots on her…it is a struggle to find that middle ground for me but fingers crossed.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      Why haven’t you taken measures to block him? If he were a good man I could understand that you would tell him not to call and he would honor your wishes. But, you are saying that he is NOT a good person. So why are you allowing him tp make contact. You had come a long way, but you seem to be backsliding, now. Why? I know it’s hard but you have to be strong. Get behind your decision to get rid of him once and for all.

      • Allison says:


        I don’t understand why you have not blocked him either.

        If you’re really annoyed then get a restraining order.

        • Sandy says:

          Tink and Allison, I did change my cell phone number but then he rang my landline a few times and where after chatting away and meeting up with him once I started to trust he had changed…long story short I gave him my new number and am now too embarrassed to change it again due to having to let my friends and family know what an idiot I was about him…again…but at least the good thing about this was that I really opened my eyes this time and while I thought I was backsliding I just deleted his last contact which was nearly two weeks ago without replying, believe me when I say that was a big step for me so I realise that I am slowly getting stronger. I refuse to get a restraining order (although I did think about it at the start) as one of his ex girlfriends did this and I am not going to be that person, I need to find my strength to deal with this in my own way and while it may appear slow to everybody else, to me I know I am getting there. I want to find that strong woman who didn’t take any crap again, so I have decided to not run or hide anymore, it’s bullshit that because of this one man that it has to be like this and I refuse to lie down and accept it.
          I am wondering whether I like the fact that he keeps on trying to contact me because it makes me feel validated that he is still thinking of me, something else to work on as it shows that I am not really loving myself as fully as I know I should, although my inner voice is starting to sound alot kinder and I am not putting myself down as much.
          I know that up days and down days are to be expected due to me being a work in progress so I just hang in there knowing that things will get better :-)

          • Tinkerbell says:


            I don’t mean to criticize you. I’m not doing a whole lot better myself. We’re both doing the best we can at the moment. Circumstances and feelings are not stagnant they will change eventually. XX Tink.

    • JustHer says:

      I don’t think you can ever expect them to simply respect your wishes – why would they?! It’s in their interest to break down your barriers, which you seem to have surprisingly become rather strong with, so that they can get that daily dose of ego pie.

      It’s just rather annoying that you have asked them to stop contacting you, but who cares, they are sure that if they try hard enough you’ll succumb. History tells them so.

      I think that as long as you’re aware of what you need in a relationship, you’ll know in your gut when you should let your guard down. I felt that I lost all hope for trusting another guy too, but I believe that when the right guy comes along, I will learn to trust again.

      There is always hope for the future. Always.

      • Sandy says:

        Hi JustHer,

        Thanks for that, I think I was experiencing a bit of a down day, my history with him was always giving in, so I think my no replying to his last contact would have come as a shock

        Onwards and upwards for both of us :-)

  17. teachable says:

    Yes Nat & when they do act differently after we’ve given them the flick, it can confirm the astuteness of our decision. This has happened with the ‘friend’ I had issues w a while bk. I dropped a note into her letterbox reminding her I’m still.waithing for to replace & return a book she borrowed & damaged. No response. Ran into her y.day in a group setting. I steered clear. As others were celebrating a special occassion there w me she rushed to hug me then trotted out an excuse abt the book. I reared bk on the hug & merely mentioned the book is available on Amazon. I left her tripping over the lame excuse. The book should have been replaced / returned 12 mths ago. My books are very valuable to me. I see exactly why I moved on. End of. 😉

  18. Nigella says:

    Great post!

    I think it really helps if one can draw the line between (1) differences that are deal-breakers and (2) differences that can be negotiated & accepted in a relationship. Overall, when faced with most differences, I do not feel the need to change or control a person. If the impulse to control or change a person arises in me, I see that as a sign to either opt out or accept the person with their differences.

    Unfortunately, the problem I have faced in the past is not realizing in time that someone is actually not accepting me for who I am – not accepting in other words the differences that exist between me and them. For this reason, I also sometimes did not pick up on the attempts that people at times made to undermine my opinion, trait, habit, choice if it differed from theirs. Even worse, at times I tried to defuse a situation or please a person by hiding or undermining my differences from them. Consequently, though I was making room for their differences, they were loath to accommodate my differences because of which such relationships were out-of-balance. In hindsight, I recognize feeling drained, depleted, rejected, controlled, dismissed, and undermined.

    Looking back, I feel I have already lost more than enough time *waiting* for some people to accept me. Now – slowly & steadily – I am feeling a lot better about not seeking approval from others for my differences. I am also becoming better at picking up on their attempts to control or change me. I do not expect people to mirror me, and I am going to make sure that no one reduces me to the role of a puppet or mirror in their life.

    It is crucial to recognize – sooner than later – the extent to which someone can accept you with your differences from them. Plus, if people use differences as an *excuse* to terminate a relationship, then it is best to accept their decision but *not* to doubt your alleged difference from them. This is what I struggled with for some time – after the break-up, I began to doubt myself. In the break-up email, the ex told me for the first & last time that “it seems to me that I cannot manage our different professional & social patterns”. Given that he never bothered to discuss our differences with me, it is clear that he had no interest in making the relationship last. He just did not care enough to put in the effort – and came up with an excuse to drop me. Instead of admitting his lack of interest in me outright, he cloaked it in the “I cannot manage our differences” reason.

    Looking back, I can see the ineffectual attempts he made to make me doubt some of my professional and social commitments. But when I refused to bend to his will, he bailed out. Unlike his former gfs – the ones that acted as passengers in the relationship – I did not take the backseat or morph myself to secure his attention. I did not drop everything to be at his beck and call. I am so glad I did not relegate my professional & social commitments to secondary importance in order to keep him in my life. Staying true to oneself is crucial. Though it does not guarantee one an accepting life-partner, it deters us from betraying ourselves to satisfy an essentially unsatisfiable – habitually dissatisfied – person.

  19. Worn Out says:


    If I’m honest I am bewildered by the ex AC’s behaviour.

    I liken to the following scenario.

    You are two soldiers on the same side fighting the enemy and you get shot in the leg meaning you will have to limp back to base.(also BOTH of you bear some responsibility for you getting shot) You except the person you are with to care for you, help you bandage your leg to slow the bleeding, to help you stand and walk with you back to base. You would not expect the person to just run off back to base with no care or concern for you. After all if the situation were reversed you would do all you can to make sure you both got back safely to base.

    I saw there were differences between us but I truly thought that when it came to the crunch the ex AC would step up and have compassion especially since he was partly responsible for the circumstances in which I found myself, but he ran away. It was so hard and still is hard and bewildering that someone could be so callous and simply not care. Now being the stupid person I am I did waste some time trying to show him that he should care and step up and bear some responsibility for my circumstances but it got ridiculous and he would only see me if I took out my big magic eraser and wiped out all the facts and went with his version of events.
    I am no contact it was too much to wipe out the past and reset to the place before all the horrible circumstances. But it hurts like hell to think he didn’t even have any care or concern about me.

  20. Tinkerbell says:


    You’ve raised one of the HARDEST questions to answer. I’ve had a VERY HARD time with that in the last few months. When is are the differences negotiable, and when to fold. Nat has a post on this but I don’t know any more. You’d have to look for it. I decided if I was not going to be truly happy and satisfied that what was of utmost importance to me I am getting, then, no matter how much I may WANT the relationship I’m not going to be happy over the long run. We’re no longer at the stage in our lives where we think about only today and tomorrow will take care of itself. For myself, I have to feel that I’m in for the long haul and if I have doubts or he appears to have doubts, it’s goodbye. It is VERY PAINFUL especially if the person has not violated you in any way, but there are some things in life which require both parties being on the same page.

    • Nigella says:


      I hadn’t thought of differences in terms of time but you are so right: “we’re no longer at the stage in our lives where we think about only today and tomorrow will take care of itself.” Thanks for this comment. Like you, I have no interest in wasting my time on relationships that are plagued by worries and doubts. Seriously, why bring additional stress into our lives? If doubts are not dispelled and worries are not managed appropriately within a certain amount of time – say 2-4 months – I am out. This time-limit is of course arbitrary but I am creating it for myself. Otherwise, as my track-record suggests, I am in the habit of giving people unnecessary chances to redeem themselves or meet me midway on an issue or difference.

      To sift deal-breakers from negotiable differences, I think each individual has to *recognize* & *stick* to her primary values & boundaries. Here are some of my deal-breakers (followed by the primary value they compromise in brackets):

      1) Lying, cheating, avoiding discussions (honesty)
      2) Flirting with others, treating me as an option (devotion, commitment)
      3) Shouting, belittling my interests & goals (respect)
      4) Disappearing, dodging questions, failing to deliver on promises (reliability – availability)
      5) Not exercising, drinking, smoking in excess (health)
      6) Refusing to comfort me or see things from my perspective or meet me midway (emotional intelligence – empathy)
      7) Failing to operate like a team-player on equal footing with me. Being too solo-driven (co-operation)
      8) Thinking negatively all the time about plans and people (optimism)
      9) Making poor financial and social decisions & depending on others to rescue him (independence)
      10) Showing no interest in growing as a person and as a couple (ambition)

      I agree with you: “there are some things in life which require both parties being on the same page”. To figure out whether the other person is on the same page, one has to be aware of those things & communicate them to the other person. The communication part tells us whether or not both parties are on the same page unless of course the other person is two-faced. In that case, he may say one thing but think and do something else. Either way, time is bound to reveal the gap between his words and actions – based on which one can decide to stay or opt out.

      In my case, the thing that really hurt me is that the ex not once had a “are we on the same page?” chat with me. Instead, after disappearing for 10 days, he mentioned what he saw as our “different professional and social patterns” as the reason for ending our 2.5 years of friendship & 2.5 months of relationship. Yet during the chase phase, he had led me to think that he admires my commitment to my work as well as the amount of time & attention I give to my friends & family members. So all I can really conclude from this perplexing situation is that I was dealing with an unstable & unreliable person. Plainly put, a future faker – initially he pretended to be on the same page with me on some things, made promises, and long-term commitments. But ultimately, under-delivered and bailed out.

      He did not really want a relationship with me. He lied in order to secure short-term attention from me on his terms. I feel sorry for the girls that dated him for 1 or 2 years. Perhaps they were on the same page as him – a page with two words: emotionally unavailable.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Hi Nigella,

        Physically I’m holding strong with NC and I was mentally, also, until I got the bday card from him the day before my bday. In the card he mentioned that he would notify me asap about how he was doing. He had rotator cuff surgery the day of my bday, ironically. I can’t help but think this was covertly planned with his doc so that he would have a legitimate reason not to be with me. But he said that the surgical schedule mandated that particular day. He also mentioned being sorry he was not able to celebrate my bday with me like he did last year. Yeah right. Anyway, I didn’t call him as I wanted to on the pretense of saying “thank you” for the card and showing concern for his health. Of course, my goal was to speak to him, period. It felt unnatural for me not to do that, but I refused to give in, since, he had said he’d call me. So now, I’m feeling a little sad. The feelings of loving him are not fading as rapidly as I would like. Now we have shared such a passionate love for basketball and I want to talk,laugh,learn and joke about the games with him but I can’t. I’m waiting to hear from him and feeling lower as each day passes. The thing is, Nigella, he’s really a good person. I’ve concluded that the main reason I’m skittish and a bit pissed off about possible getting back into a friendship with him is because I feel misled. The cards this man has sent me had clearly implied we were a couple and he said he loved me Moe times in cards than verbally. Then once he found out that his condition is not reversible he really backed off and even told me that he doesn’t feel he can make me happy. So, what’s a woman to do? When he finally does call I’m feeling like I’ll be back into him all over again. So knowing myself and protecting myself, am going to insist that we have a very down to earth, lengthy if necessary discussion about how HE sees our future. We never had a serious discussion because I sort of didn’t give it a chance, but I feel that he’s a man he could open up and TALK to me. Not expect me to have to drag his feelings opinions out of him. When I started NC, it was a surprise to him. He kept contacting me, expressing concern for my welfare and I wouldn’t answer. Then finally, I sent an email saying, “I’m alright. Not talking.” Actually, it was rude. He hasn’t done anything for me to be rude to him. Just because he’s feeling sexually inadequate and doesn’t feel he can make me a happy woman over the long haul is no reason for me to be rude. I often wonder if he would have become EU if the sex was hot and crazy. It would seem to me that if a person is EU they always have been. They don’t suddenly become that way. And, although I don’t know what kind of women he was married to, I do know there were three of them so that is a cause for wonder. My therapist says I need to stop thinking about his 3 other marriages and look at the fact that he has been EU with ME and that even if he was the best husband in the world in the past, what difference would it make if he’s not up to par in OUR relationship. I wish so much that he could have the depth of feelings for me that I have for him. I know he cares for me deeply. He’s proven that already, but then again he’s shown that he can be quite distant and behave as though I’m invisible. He likes, even craves solitude. I don’t. it’s all been very confusing and I just gave up.

        Anyway, Nigella, because you and I seem to click as far as our thought processes work, I felt the need to say all this. I’m trying so hard to be smart and to remain grounded but the fact remains that I really love him and he is a man who is worthy of my love. He just feels he’s not enough for me and I haven’t been able to change his mind. I guess my one wish would be that I could be friends with him without any physical affection but without feeling that he was right – he’s NOT enough. Any thoughts would be welcome.

        • MaryW says:

          Tink, I’m sorry to cut in and possibly seem a bit rude, but your NC with Petie is not really NC. He’s still contacting you, you’re waiting for him to contact you and feeling sad that he hasn’t … though you didn’t really explain the whole NC thing to him?

          I may be missing something because I don’t log in every day/ read everything, but this NC is not really NC.

          It sounds like torture for you because the NC is one sided, and he’s possibly confused by your not-rude (IMO) but brief and not really explanatory message (“I’m all right, not talking”). Does he understand what that’s all about? That he can contact you but will be ignored?

          I know Petie is not as assclown and I know you don’t want to cut him off completely. I just wonder about the ‘terms and agreements’ of the NC because you don’t seem happy. X

          • Tinkerbell says:


            You’re right. I didn’t really explain it to him and true, we’re not really NC. I correct others for throwing that term around loosely and here I am doing it. I don’t think I can be NC with him. We BOTH enjoy each other too much to end it permanently. There’s so muc more to this r/l than sex. He always said we’d be “friends for life” and I feel the same way. My biggest problem is being able to see him as a friend and NOT a lover. It’s so damn hard to give up the wish (hope, dream). I thought he would know why I’m not communicating because he KNOWS how much I love him and he’s not putting out enough. But, I have to remember men can be pretty dense about emotions and behavior resulting from those emotions. I should have explained. Also, I think I got the idea of having been rude because of the very fact of not explaining. That’s why I said he didn’t deserve that. It’s true. He’s probably bewildered as to whether he should call me or not. But he has in the meantime gotten the get well card another non-NC sign)so he should realize that I care enough to talk to him and that he should call me. Right now, his little 3yr old grandson is visiting from long distance, so I know even though he doesn’t have the use of his right hand temporarily he’s doing fine. Thank you for the “NC” observation. I knew that but didn’t want to admit to myself because it would mean taking action, pro or con. XX Tink.

            • MaryW says:

              Bless you, Tink. You’re going through a unique experience and you don’t have to follow any firm rules (such as strict NC), just work out what’s the best course of action for you and try to communicate it to Petie.

              He’s not just a man but an introverted man – us introverts (male or female) can get a bit stuck in our own bubbles sometimes and need someone to break it now and again.

              My point, I suppose, is that he’s not deliberately hurting you but probably clueless about what to do, and confused about mixed messages.

              I don’t have the solution, but I’m thinking of you

        • Little Star says:

          Oh Tink, I wish I could take your pain away;( I can understand, it is SO difficult to move on from a good guy (that what I think about your man)… Maybe it worth talking to him for the last time? Somehow I think he deserve explanation and who knows maybe you both resolve your differences and get back together? X

          • Tinkerbell says:

            Little Star,

            I do have to have that talk with him because this is torture. But, it has to be unwaveringly confirmed in my mind that we’re friends, only. I do feel I have to ask him how he sees us in the future and just not expect any good news. Fortunately, whenever I ask him ANY question point blank he is forthcoming, honest and not hesitant. Thanks for the support. XX Tink.

        • sandy says:

          Tink, you come across as so strong in a lot of your posts to others on here that I forget that you are going through your own little bit of hell.
          He hasn’t contacted you, what does that say, another promise to you not followed through, I think you should re-read your post out loud to yourself, he is saying one thing (as in his cards, implying that you are a couple) but he is not acting that way at all.
          You broke no contact to let him know you were doing no contact, and yet you tell us that is a definite no no..he has been so EU with you but you still think you can change his mind and he will love you and be there for you, maybe he hasn’t been as abusive as some of the men on here have been but Tink why are you trying to hang in there thinking things will change?
          You feel skittish because you sense there is something that is not right, he may have deep feelings for you but do his actions match his words…maybe it’s time you had a strong word with yourself like you to us or have a strong word with him and finally, finally have no confusion left at all.

          • Tinkerbell says:


            You’re right. I’ve told myself that and it’s been suggested by the therapist that romantic cards don’t mean much when I stayed a full two weeks with him at his house and he was distant. I know mentally, but emotionally it’s so difficult to accept that how a person interacts with you IN THE FLESH is the barometer I should use to judge where we’re at, not cards, emails, texts. phone calls. It was incredibly painful when he behaved that way. I felt like, ” Is this the same person?” The ONLY REASON I’m continuing to even so much as think about him is because I know he was trying to deal with the intimacy issue as best he could and was not intending to cause me pain. So many features of this r/l are new to me, i.e, I never knew you could experience emotional pain without it being abuse. Actually, the abuse is coming from ME to myself. As you asked Sandy, “why am I still hanging in there hoping he will change?”

        • Nigella says:


          I am sorry to hear that you are feeling sad. I can also sense the intensity of your confusion. Four things stand out: (1) each of you cares for the other person, (2) though you’re missing him, you’re aware of how disappointed you felt whenever he distanced himself emotionally, (3) you’re not sexually satisfied with him because of his condition, (4) though he cares for you, he realizes that he cannot satisfy you sexually and emotionally.

          Depending on what you want from this man – either as a friend or a partner – you might first want to *write down* exactly what you want. (1) Identify things that are necessary for you to feel content with him. Specify what do you expect from him. (2) Identify things that you wish were different about him. In other words, specify what would you like to change in him. (3) Identify what you would like to change in yourself regarding your attachment to him. Depending on the answers you get, you can decided whether to have a conversation with him, and what points to raise in the conversation.

          This may or may not help you gain clarity. But writing down things often helps me step out of my assumptions – anxieties & fantasies – and approach things as they are. From what I can gather, it is clear that this person is not deliberately trying to toy with your feelings or frustrate you. Ultimately, it makes no difference what you think of him & the relationship, if he is unable or unwilling to be on the same page with you. So only a conversation can help you figure out his true feelings. If he is unable or unwilling to articulate his feelings, then you can decide whether you can be content with such a person. If, before or after a conversation, you secretly feel the desire to change him – or are waiting for him to change for your sake – then it is best to let this go. It is best not to dine off illusions.

          Personally, I cannot get close to people that cannot communicate their needs & expectations to me in a clear manner. I am not superwoman: I cannot read minds. So I expect people to share their thoughts with me. The lesson I have learned is that if I start feeling confused or dissatisfied, I should not tarry to talk to them. Best to ask questions and accept the answers, however sweet or bitter, clear or muddy they might be. In other words, I cannot wait around for the other person to initiate a conversation. Life is too short to play Penelope for Odysseus or Echo for Narcissus. If they are too busy to have a conversation with me, then I have no interest in them. Simple. Generally, I do not fear conversations because I genuinely do not fear hearing things that might disappoint me. This quotation comes to mind: “Hurt me with the truth, but don’t comfort me with a lie”. Lies hurt me. Dodged questions hurt me. Lack of open conversations hurt me. The truth does not hurt me. It sets me free.

          I could be wrong. But perhaps the hardest thing you are having to face in this situation is your own helplessness – the fact that you really cannot change his outlook on some things or maneuver him into becoming the man that you hope him to be. Plus, you are also finding it difficult to change your feelings about him. This is totally understandable. Take your time. Your feelings need not function like an on-off switch.

          I am not sure what else to say. Having a conversation without first clarifying your own feelings might be a misstep. I realized that people do not have open conversations for these main reasons [including sentences that characterize certain thought patterns]:

          (1) They are not interested in improving the relationship or making it last. So they call it quits. [I don’t want to have a chat because I’m not that invested. I don’t want to tell her that I don’t actually like her as much as she likes me.]
          (2) They make too many assumptions about the other person – and based on those assumptions prefer to end the relationship.[I don’t think X cares about me. So I’m going to dump him.]
          (3) They do not know what to say or what do they want. So they keep delaying the chat. Eventually, things blow-up. [I’m frustrated, confused, but I’m not sure what I want and what should I say to him. So I’ll wait for him to read my mind, bring up a conversation, or dump me.]
          (4) They are afraid of revealing their feelings for different reasons. So they prefer to opt out rather than make themselves transparent. [I don’t want to come across as controlling or needy. So I’d rather bail out now. If he wants me, he’ll chase me.]
          (5) They are afraid of hearing things that they cannot really accept. So as a self-protective and preemptive measure, they get out of the relationship before learning about the truth. [I’m afraid he’s going to see my flaws – find someone else – and dump me. So before he dumps me, I’ll dump him. I don’t want to hear him tell me that he’s not in love with me, that he wants to be with others.]

          Regardless of what the reasons might be for not having open conversations, relationships cannot last in any meaningful manner if such conversations do not take place. In the absence of such conversations, one chooses to live with assumptions and illusions.

          Take care, Tinkerbell. My best wishes are with you. Things will get better.

          • Tinkerbell says:


            I saw this post after addressing the one below. The things you are saying and the suggestions are a tremendous help. I’ve been avoiding making out a list of what I want, just as I’ve been avoiding THE TALK. I’m afraid of writing down a very honest list that doesn’t balance out the way I want it to, and I’m afraid to have the talk with him because I’m afraid of what he’ll say. I just don’t understand this fear in myself because I’ve always (well almost) face things head on without being afraid because I’d rather know the awful truth than be misled. To use Nat’s phrase, I don’t want to leave my “uncomfortable comfort zone”. This has got to change fast because it’s unhealthy.

        • Pauline says:

          Tink, I hope you don’t mind me butting in here, it seems to me that you have already answered your own question. Your last few sentences in your post say it all. He feels he’s not going to be enough for you (sexually I take it and that’s going to be long term) and you think he is right, he won’t be. You haven’t been able to convince him otherwise although you’ve tried and he still isn’t coming around to your way of thinking. He won’t as long as you keep banging away at him to change his mind. I don’t know about you but if someone keeps pushing me to do something I really don’t want to, it makes me dig my heels in harder.
          You said, he backed right off when he found out his medical condition was not reversible and I can see where he is coming from there.
          I think he loves you and doesn’t feel like he can make a life with you for the long term, say the next 20-40 years. He knows exactly how you feel about him and I think right now he can’t handle your feelings.
          I think you have a couple of choices here, you can do a limited friendship with him on his terms and stay hopelessly in love accepting crumbs or, you can go NC and grieve the loss of him how ever long it takes and move on.
          It’s not just about you, if he is feeling like he will never be capable of giving the type of love he thinks you deserve from him you will have to respect his decision, whether you think it’s fair or not.

          • Tinkerbell says:


            You’re not butting in because any input is welcome and it does help. You’re right, about my battering ram behavior. He knows how much I love him and the more I love him and try to effect a change, the more he is distancing himself because it increases his feelings of inadequacy. I know he does love me deeply as a person and has told me over and over verbally enumerating the qualities he loves. But I need more. I feel that we could still be lovers on a limited basis and not live together so the sexual issue wouldn’t be so much in our faces all the time. Am I giving myself excuses? Am I fantasizing something that cannot ultimately work no matter how much I “tweak” it? I don’t know.

            So, I will give him the rest of this week. If I haven’t heard anything from him by then, there may not be any reason to have THE TALK because the opportunity will have passed and actions speak louder than words. Thanks, Pauline. XX Tink.

            • JustHer says:


              I’m sorry you’re going through such a tough time. Even when the guy is not an AC, it is hard to get that distance from what you want and what you can be given.

              Do you not think that maybe he is just as confused and he may be hoping that you would take the step to explain things to him and why you are going NC?

              I feel that he does not understand your actions and why you are taking the necessary steps and maybe he wants to see some action of your side too?

              I know that closure is something we should give ourselves, but perhaps it would help it you talked everything over anyway?

              Hugs to you, honey x

              • Tinkerbell says:

                Just her,

                Thanks for your post.
                You know I’ve been thinking that he doesn’t understand what is going on with us, either and may well be just as confused as I am because my attitude and behavior has been flaky lately and he’s only now seeing this side of me. Days ago when he was concerned about me he sounded so kind and cheerful on the phone asking me to let him know that I was ok. He had no idea I was trying to instill NC. And all I did was send a curt email saying, “I’m alright. Not talking.” In between I got my bday card from him and the day after that I sent him a get well card which was a humorous one, not mushy (nor was his). I’m on pins and needles because we DO need to talk and get things clarified but I don’t want to make the first move. I haven’t deleted his two calls so I can hear his voice. Don’t know what I’ll do. xx

            • Pauline says:

              It’s a tough one Tink and my heart goes out to you. Two people who love each other very much and you can see a solution and he can’t.
              Whatever is stirring around in his head about the two of you is his to resolve now. He knows exactly where you stand.
              My best advice would be to do nothing.
              Stick with your boundaries and if he’s not coming forward with any positive suggestions or plans within the next 4-6 weeks in regards to you both, he never will.
              Look after yourself first. Xx

              • Tinkerbell says:

                Hi Pauline,

                That’s my plan. No NC, which never was, anyway. We’ll talk. I’ll be my natural self that he has always enjoyed and loved in his way. But I won’t press him or say a word about future plans. I’ll keep it light so he can hopefully feel more comfortable and regain self confidence. If there’s no progression. There’s no more I can do. I’m going to take it one day at a time.

      • Tinkerbell says:


        Before lauching into my own story I wanted to address yors. Your list of relationship “requirements is identical to mine. And, that discussion about being on the same page never happened in my r/l either. Do you think it’s because that’s not something men are used to and in order for it to happen we women have to be the ones to initiate it. I agree with your decision to opt out in your case because your guy grabbed the opportunity to find differences and disappeared for 10 days rather than talk to you. You found him to be a man who has not backed up his words with his actions, so you’ve felt that he is unreliable. In my r/l he has been almost painfully honest and perhaps I am the one who has clouded my own perceptions. I just didn’t “get it”, when another woman with more recent dating experience probably would have and bailed sooner. Anyway, I hope that your decision is the right one for you and you will not have second thoughts or wish later on that things could have been different.

        • Nigella says:


          On one hand, I regret dating the ex. On the other, I know that had I not been hurt by him, I would not have found BR. In the past five months, I have learned so many life-changing lessons about relationships thanks to Natalie and BR posters. I see this as a huge gain.

          In fact it is only after finding BR that I started to think about things such as “deal-breakers”, “primary values”, “boundaries”, and so on. Though I lead a fairly social life and people are generally warm & welcoming towards me, I am quite reserved about what I share with others. Had I not found BR to express my thoughts, I doubt I would have been able to cope or heal as much as I have.

          It has taken me five months to get here but I no longer have second thoughts about him. I regret sharing information about my professional and social life with him – not realizing that although he is *showing* interest in what I am sharing with him, inwardly he is *judging* or *resenting* me. I feel foolish for opening up to him. He did not deserve to learn about things that matter so much to me. Oh well. I am glad he is out of my life.

          I also have no doubts about my decision not to date and no longer feel that all-consuming desire for sex – any sort of closeness is making me feel uncomfortable at this stage of my life. I want to lead my life on my own terms – and ensure that I do not doubt my professional & social commitments just because someone else is disapproving of them.

          • Tinkerbell says:


            I totally agree and experience
            the same on all your statements pertaining to your growth d/t BR. Who would believe unless they log onto this blog, that it can be such a powerful benefit to us in the most personal ways. Goes to show that negative experiences can enlighten us to very positive feelings about ourselves, that we neither had nor were aware of prior.

            Yesterday wasn’t such a good day which is why I had so much to say to you. That old reminiscing bug bit me. So late last night I went back to Nat’s book “The Dreamer……” and was able to retrieve a clearer, less depressed perception of my situation. I don’t know if you do, but I go up and down the ladder of feelings. I guess that’s quite normal. I wanted to pick up the phone so badly, but didn’t. I’m feeling stronger today. I’m wishing for you and for myself peace and continued self empowerment.

            • Sandy says:

              Big hugs Tink, I think a lot of us go up and down the ladder of feelings, this week hasn’t been a good week for me at all, sometimes I just so desperately want to hear from him but I gather my pride and realise that not contacting or answering his attempts at contact is the right thing for me at the moment…sometimes it’s just so hard to be the strong one all the time.

  21. Karla says:

    Great post, and as many others pointed out here, just in time for many of us. It deals with exactly the same issue I am working on on my journey away from my EUM – I was the over-empathising partner, the analysing partner, the accomodating-his-need-for-space partner, all the time accepting being in a non-committal “relationship”. When my issues dealing with the insecurity in this relationship slowly came to surface, and my ability to trust him was gone, he was not capable of coping, and told me “you have to find a way to trust me”, leaving me to deal with my issues alone – still it continued being all about him, his issues, his bad experiences, his inability to commit.

    He broke up with me 8 weeks ago, telling me he cannot be the “Prince Charming boyfriend” I want him to be (?). “This time around”, I went no contact, after being in a more-off-than-on-relationship with him for almost four years! He wanted to remain friends, but I’ve been there with him, and I declined. It’s tremendously painful having lost him for good, but I am recovering slowly.

  22. JustHer says:

    Hi Everyone!

    I have good news and I wanted to share it here. I have finally got a job! I have been AWOL for a while from BR, but that is due to working hard on the applications and interviews – which helped. It is not the job I really wanted, but I will be working nonetheless, and that is a great victory over my previous despair.

    I also owe some replies to people which I should have posted earlier:

    LittleStar – I know you’ve been finding it hard to go on all these dates and still find that you are not getting anywhere. Honey, I would recommend that you stop dating for a while and just think about yourself and what it means for you to enjoy your time doing all the things on your bucket list (if you don’t have one, make one!). Remember, these assholes don’t deserve any more chances because NOTHING CHANGES!

    Lisa – your update on your ex’s prospective gf was disturbing. He is a cheating, pathological liar and does not deserve any more of your time or efforts. I think that you should get your stuff from his place pronto, honey, and then block him for good. I know you are much too strong and you can pull through it. It may seem like forever right now, but there will be a time when you can look back and focus on what you learnt rather than what you miss.

    I recently got an email from my ex. Remember I had blocked him everywhere? Well apparently, the email just sends my blocked emails to my “junk” folder, which I happened to be cleaning out and saw his reply.

    I got one of my friends to read it instead and she said it was not worth reading because it had nothing new in it – I really have heard it all. It is still sitting in my junk folder (it’s been a week) and I haven’t deleted it or looked at it.

    I just don’t think he deserves any more chances and we all need to believe that. I realised the fundamentals – he may be allowed to be an individual, but he simply doesn’t match my core values of faithfulness and commitment. Without that there is no hope for us and I don’t think there ever will be.

  23. A says:

    This post ties in well with idea that many of us waste too much time trying to understand the behaviour rather than just getting the hell away from it. “Why is he treating me badly”, “why does he seem so angry”, “maybe it was x, y, z….”

    Rather than trying to figure out the cause or wondering if we did something “wrong” (especially if it seems to be a changed behaviour), we need to get out of dodge. He’s acting like an ass**** because….he is an ass****! Case closed. Too much time is wasted on these selfish asses.

    I think if I hadn’t grown up experiencing such disrespectful behaviour this concept would probably have been a no brainer. If someone who is supposed to care about you is treating you in a way that you would never consider treating a stranger – even on your worst day – then why would you even want to be with this kind of person?

  24. Crazybaby says:


    That’s an excellent list of primary values / boundaries and applies not just to romantic partners but family members too! Thank you for posting :)

  25. Penelope-Pitt's-Thoughts says:

    I thought we celebrated our differences, and we had an excellent understanding of “We are different people.”

    But now I just think our differences were the “elephant in the room” we ignored, and when I pointed at the elephant one day, well, I think he tried to get me to forget about it.

    We “got on” so well; we were supportive of each other; I was happy when I was with him, and he seemed happy to be in a relationship with me, so I think we learned to live with the elephant. We had disagreements, but we always communicated well with respect and care–no, we weren’t perfect, but we didn’t lose control and hurt each other, as he did in the end.

    As the relationship became more serious, I think our difference started to affect our ability to not only meet each others wants and needs but also find common ground. And as with most fights, our big fight wasn’t really about what we professed to be fighting about–we were fighting about the elephant, and he was furious at me for refusing to pretend the elephant wasn’t still in the room, and him attacking my values and beliefs, well, I felt like he was blaming me for the elephant, and it seemed to frustrate the heck out of him that I wouldn’t just drop my values and beliefs to be with him, so he was trying to take me by force and manipulation.

    Simply put, I guess one could say he wanted the relationship on his terms, and I chose “nothing at all.”

    Sure, he received consequences for his bad behavior, but I also received consequences for my smart decision, and yep, that isn’t coming without pain.

    Dang, this pain hurts, and I want it to end, but I’m committed to my decision; I’ll re-commit to my decision every day if I have to because I didn’t deserve what he did to me. I deserve better, so I’m giving myself better.

  26. Genki says:

    Nigella, loved the list, it really articulated what I think most people are looking for in a relationship. I think Nat really identified an excellent point here “differences” some differences can be good but some are simply not acceptable. I have also noticed that with previous healthy relationships I did not need to change too much of myself or seek to change my partner, however with my husband (now separated) I was always feeling like he took advantage of my kind nature & my relaxed/spontaneous nature. Others didnt do this, they saw that side of me as a positive/fun thing, whereas he saw it as a way to deceive and not get questioned. I guess what I’m trying to day is these people are manipulative and I do believe there are a lot of good, honest, fun, empathetic? Reliable people around……it’s just finding them & making sure we treat people the way we want to be treated.
    It’s great to hear of you ladies recognising that some people really don’t deserve the time of day from us or that we simply aren’t matched. I’m trying very hard not to analyse everything as it’s not worth the time.

  27. espresso says:

    I really craved more “input” from my ex in terms of bringing new things into the relationship, new stimulation, new friends, ideas, etc. That was a huge problem. But one of the most important things I learned on BR is that I put too much stress on having similar views on certain things while not recognizing that my ex and I had HUGE and irreconcilable differences about what we valued most in life and more fundamentally how we approached life. We had political views we still share and that IS important to me but it isn’t enough and it doesn’t speak to the inner person. Very quickly we got into conflict because we didn’t even speak the same language on important things. I valued consistency, congruency, curiousity, passion (about anything), independence, self respect, respect, social engagement with others, empathy, loyalty and appreciation/thoughtfulness, for starters. Every one of our epic toxic disagreements came from these value differences. You can’t “create” them if they aren’t there and if they are important – then end of story.

  28. Ayr says:

    This has hit me very strongly. I definitely needed this today. I’m released from over analyzing and can just keep moving forward with no contact. I’ve, in the past, floundered back and forth between contact and NC. I can accept that we’re just different. That means that I won’t be involved with anyone that behaves in a way that is contrary to what I believe is respectful and loving.

  29. cc says:

    haven’t commented in a while, so hi everybody.

    this post is a good reminder even if you’re in a healthy relationship. just because i’m smart doesn’t mean that i don’t forget that my counterpart doesn’t think or feel about everything, doesn’t react to everything the way i do, even when we’re agreeing, we’re still reacting differently. and that’s ok. the key is to look at things with clear eyes and decide if your goals and styles are the same.

    hugs to all.

  30. noquay says:

    Yep, you and he need to have a serious talk. Then you need tell him you need to have your needs met, that that’s what you DESERVE. I disagree with your therapist; yep, he’s EU with you, that is a problem but also three failed marriages is a serious red flag. It doesn’t mean he is a bad person; it means he probably cannot do commitment, many cannot. I am still pissed at Mr. Petey because he had no business attaching to you in the first place, he knew something was wrong with him; why didn’t he get it checked out before dating someone? Same with my current kinda, sorta friend. Hate to tell you, but this sort of thing must be pretty prevalent among older men; was pondering the situation whilst reading your post and it occurred to me that this time round is the fourth time I have encountered this situation. My ex (unfortunate consequence of prostate cancer surgery), “grizzly man”, who disappeared rather than admit to his problem; after running away from the Griz and leaving me plus our dogs to our potentially painful fates, I realized what a coward he truly was, then toxic local dude where I really didn’t care because he wasn’t going to be a relationship for much longer, and now this dude. I write this long winded stupid scenario because if Noquay, who never did date much and bails right away on most on-line dudes due to red flags, is encountering this issue that often, it must be common and should you decide to date again, you will deal with this once more. Except for the ex, three of these men were on line, going out with women knowing damned well how the story ends. Petey will either also be a sort of weird friend, which I don’t recommend, as you are romantically attached to him, or he needs to be outta your life pronto and he needs to see why NC is for the best. My dude and I had some version of the talk you need to have with Petey. This guy is worried about my intending to leave seven years hence, had kind of criticised this before. I told him “when my obligations to my dad, to pay off this house, to save enough to take care of me in my retirement, are accomplished, I see zero need to doom myself to a life alone; if I am neither married nor in a committed relationship by then, I’m outta here”. This was met with a long silence. Good luck Tinks, take care of yourself.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      It’s amazing how the thins you’ve said. even though they’re bitter pills to swallow I’ve thought about it all. I thought 3 marriages was at least an amber flag. I resented the fact that he got me so attached when he should have known he would not be able to perform. He told me this was his “first experience of ED”, swore up, down and around that it had NEVER happened before. I thought “Gee. Lucky me. I wish the hell you had experimented and found out with someone else before you came after me.” I know he did not expect things to get this deep between us. I do agree it would be a weird friendship for both of us. What do they call it “push/pulley”? Well, I am sooo tired of posting my confusion and sadness over him and I’m quite sure it’s become very repetitive to others reading all this (or just skipping my posts) because it’s repetitive to me. I WILL NOT CALL HIM, if I have to stick my hands in fire. Whenever he calls WE WILL have that talk. I will write everything down ahead of time like Nigella suggests, let him know that if he wants to continue a r/l with me, need my needs met and be explicit, and ask what he plans to do about us. If he doesn’t call that will be the end. I really mean it. I will not go back on the limits I’ve set for myself. I have been through so much HELL in my life not only with men, but I could have died or been left an amputee from 3 years of MRSA 2007 thru 2010 and husband died in 2006. I just want to be happy, and be at peace. I don’t need this merry-go-round. Thanks for the pep talk, Noquay. I appreciate the truth.

  31. Lisa says:

    Hello, I am having a very difficult time keeping the no contact. I texted him for my belongings last week (not many that I have there) but asked for them. He reply was I will check. I have not heard since. I also believe he is entertaining a relocation for his work one I was not included in among the most simple events that I was excluded from. I am anguishing what if he leaves town and just mails my belongings that would be so cold, what if he leaves town and I never hear from him.He has been hurtful in the past but at one time we were an exclusive couple. I think he might be paying me back because I was so fed up that I initiated no contact and did not thank him for his COLD and GENERAL Birthday card. We were together for 2 years. How could I have a Happy Birthday when the giver of the card just broke my heart. Help…should I ask again or let it go? Thank you.

    • Allison says:


      Why did you break up with him? If its as bad as I think, I have to question why you want more of the same.

      See it as a favor if you don’t hear from again.

      Hon, it’s time to let go!

    • Rosie says:

      Lisa- Please forgive me if I sound insensitive, don’t mean to be but why are you NC? This post reads to me as if you’re playing a game with him (I’ll show hi m! I’ll go NC and see what he does with it!) You won’t like to hear this but you broke up. He doesn’t owe you an apology for having a gf post-breakup. Again, what I’m saying sounds so very insensitive but please, please, for your benefit, accept ithat you are broken up. He’s obligated to return your proprty but not obligated to do it the way you want him to. In fact, considering your feel

      • Rosie says:

        Lisa- (To make an already unintentionally insensitive post even more so, I was posting by phone, got an E-mail, which messed up my posting and couldn’t put curser back in its place.) To continue from my last post:

        Considering your strong feelings for him, it may be in your best interest for him to mail your property to you. That way, you won’t put yourself on the emotional yo-yo. Based on everything you’ve shared about him, it’s good that you’ve broken up. A broken heart is so very painful but, based on what you’ve shared, it sounds like your heart was already broken before you broke up. Now that you’ve been away from him for a little bit, maybe you’re now realizing the extent of the damage? This guy’s slime–soothing and cool at first, but poisons the heart with its filth.

        • Tinkerbell says:


          Next time make sure he doesn’t have any of your property at his place BEFORE you break up. You must have known things were going downhill so that’s when you start getting your things out of there. Too late for that, now but next time you’ll be thinking ahead.

          Unless your things are very important to you, I’d for get them. Make up, toothbrush, things of that sort are not worth making an issue over. But, shoes and clothing are. Ask him ONE FOR TIME to mail your stuff, or drop it off where you live when you’re not there if that is feasible. If you get no cooperation, I’m afraid you’ll have to chalk it up as a loss. Don’t continually press him because you’ll surely get nowhere.
          Accept that it’s over and move on. I know how hard it is. Good luck.

          • Lisa says:

            Tinkerbell, Rosie, Allison and M Thank you each for your help and responses. Yes, I have to accept that it is OVER once and for all. I am only hurting myself. I asked once a week ago he said he’d check and never heard back. My belongings were there and he knew they were so he either discarded them or is playing some game with me and God only knows what that game is. Hope you are doing well. Lisa

  32. M says:

    Sorry Lisa about what happened. Let go, but he will get in touch again. I would if you went NC. Reading your stories,ladies, makes me sad. Yes, we (men) are often the way you describe. Understand there are a lot of emotions involved and often when you leave us we are so devastated that are unable to act in civilized manner and go temporarily “mad”.
    Ah, when you write about emotional abuse I can see so many mistakes we make without realizing what is going on before it is too late. Reading sites and blogs for men written by men make me think how different our approaches are and I feel that there may never be a “new kind of man” for all women to be happy simply because of how men view relationships with women. I’ve been reading this site and also books written for women by women on how to avoid toxic men. Sadly most men I know including myself fit many criteria. Some learn to act in civilized manner but deeply inside most men don’t think and feel like women, there is still that old instinct and also it seems from “research” men experts publish that evolutionary we are programmed to be hunters and women on subconscious level are attracted to hunters, the alpha males, etc. There is something to it I think. Just like Natalie is writing, you are not attracted to “nice guys” in the beginning. So I think what is happening is that originally “nice guys” start to learn how to be hunters and that is where they become more emotionally unavailable because emotional men are just not so attractive to women on the energy level. I know you will say that is BS and you want a nice guy in your life. Yet, somehow I hear stories over and over again which are the same. I hear men talk about women and it fits the descriptions of toxicity, red flags galore. I know a few good men that have nice families and relationships, they exist. Yet, there are so many who could be nice today and in few years turn completely different.
    Reading some psychological research about evolutionary mechanisms it seems that humans are programmed to have hormonal drive that makes them fall in love to have offsprings. Then the drive diminishes so that we can focus on raising children and having a family. This is where it goes against our current culture of pleasure and entitlement to “personal happiness”. Family gets in the way of that. In the past people did not expect as much form their personal life, so they focused on their families and did not even know about emotional abuse in most cases. Women had no idea what they could achieve by themselves. Today, women don’t need men as much or at all, so many men are disoriented and don’t know what to do.
    These are just my thoughts, I think a lot about what is happening. I do want so much to have a mutually-fulfilling relationship and make my woman happy, but somehow I managed to lose the few women who loved me. Many men don;t even want to think about these things. They are off to the next hunt because many don’t even believe that they can please a woman in the long run, so they shut down and “protect” themselves and become EUM. Perhaps they have always been EUM a bit, but with each failure it often gets worse, men don;t learn and become even more “broken”. And these are the men you are learning to spot and avoid here. Natalie says there are good men out there, just keep looking. I guess she is right, some do learn, or perhaps the EUM somebody dumped would be a perfect life mate for you. I think it is all relative and when two compatible people meet, they can and WILL change, or if not “change” but simply act in compatible manner and things will just work. Please excuse my ranting here. I do wish for women to be happy and men to know how to be there for them. That is my biggest wish (besides world peace)

  33. Tinkerbell says:


    Well, aren’t you a thoughtful, kind man! Thank you for posting this. Most of what you say I’ve found to be true particularly in this r/l now in which I’m struggling. We both are trying to meet the other’s expectations and needs, but I think I try harder. You are so right when you say men and women think differently in a serious r/l which causes some confusion, more or less depending upon the two individuals and how much effort they want to put in. We are BOTH good people and yet, life, issues, all kinds of crap gets in the way. I hope you meet your lady (“soulmate” – hate the word) some day. Best wishes.

  34. noquay says:

    There’s a lot in what you state. I do wish there was a forum where men and women could read about a situation, discuss it, see how men’s and women’s minda work. Certainly we womyn are reacting to some deep biological cues and a good many of them do not work today, especially those of us who don’t do family. Independent older chix like me look for fitness, intellect, not so much a provider as a companion who shares values. Nigella listed some very excellent values, that’s what we find attractive along withsome degree phyphysical attraction.

    • Elgie R. says:

      I get peeved at how solicitous women become when a man posts. First of all, it’s the INTERNET. How can you be sure it is a man. I am not a 25 year old blond, but I’ve played one on the internet.

      Second, just as no one woman speaks for ALL women, no one man speaks for ALL men. Not that M claims to be doing so, but to treat what ‘he’ says as an explanation of male behavior….no foundation for that.

      My experience with men says that they put effort into a relationship when they perceive some value in the relationship, and don’t put effort in when they don’t. Simple as that. No emotional knots and confusion, just “how important is it to me that I keep seeing her”.

      In my one good mutual relationship, there were some minor issues. Like me always cooking and him never taking me out or bringing groceries. So one cozy night I said to him “I like you but I have to stop seeing you because I can’t afford it.” Now, I had no intention of ending things, but I had to hit him where he’d pay attention. He said “What do you mean?”. I told him calmly that I can’t afford to keep feeding him, did he think food grew in my refrigerator? He started bringing groceries occasionally and asking if I needed anything. I was not poor and I had a good job. It was the taking advantage that I wanted to nip.

      With the same guy, early on he had a habit of extolling the beauty of other women he knew. I told him I did not like hearing about how pretty his acquaintances were and would he stop. He did it once more. I ended that date by saying I was a little tired. It took a little convincing by him to get me to go out with him again, and he never nonchalantly brought up other women’s
      beauty again.

      To him, I was valuable and he did not want to lose me. Looking back, I realize I was his young trophy girlfriend.

      I even broke AC out of a few bad habits with me, like teaching him not to stand me up and teaching him to give me a couple of days advance notice when he wanted to come by. Not by shouting and demanding, but by taking away the toys – meaning me – when he acted badly. With being stood up, in an e-mail, I delineated the five times it had happened up to that point, the deteriorating way he apologized which devolved from emailing late that same night to emailing at noon the next day, and told him “eff u”. Of course, in true AC manner he hit reset several times, and since I really was not looking to end things, after about 2 weeks I responded, and from then on, he never stood me up. On a couple of occasions when he felt he could not make it, he called well before the scheduled time. So even ACs will modify behavior when it suits them.

      My point is, men change their behavior when they want to. When they don’t change their behavior, it is because it is not important enough to them. They may play into the emotional and mental drama that we create in our minds, they will future fake if they see that will placate, but bottom line is, if it was important to them to change, they would.
      Hey Tink, here’s the book I’ve been perusing – It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now: HOW TO CREATE YOUR SECOND LIFE AT ANY AGE by Barbara Sher. Embarrassed to say I’ve owned the book for almost 2 decades, but just started reading it in the last two weeks.

      It’s the book that talks about how as we age we need to let go of the idea of “romantic love” and start to seek a more mature love. She talks about why we are unwilling to believe that love can be BETTER if you let go of fantasy. She deals with many topics…not just romance.

      Anyway, I am seeing some value in the book. I think it is a good supplement to BR writings.

      In an older post, I mentioned the lazy contact I made with AC a few weeks back. Well, that spurred a short frenzy of return lazy contact from him. For the first time EVER, I deleted his contact mails. I feel no sadness, no glee…. I read them, they said nothing. I let them sit in the mailbox for a couple of days, and then, I deleted them completely.

      Right now, I am feeling “asea”, drifting.

      There were times in the 3 years with AC that I wondered out loud if he was as bored about his life as I was…is that why we are engaging with each other?

      All in all, even though I am asea, I think it is a mostly positive thing.

      • Tinkerbell says:


        Thanks for the book. Wow! I’m on par with her thoughts. Yes, as we age we need to concentrate on down-to-earth, mature love, not romantic love which tends to contain a lot of fantasies. That’s what I’ve been learning, so now this book will reinforce that. I, believe reinforcement is so important as the aged tend to forget– LOL! I’m making a joke. What you said I’m currently finding very true, men put effort into a r/l when they see value in it. If they don’t, they won’t. When they want to change to keep you they will try to do just that.

        In my r/l it seems that the shoe is on the other foot. He is back to his sweet, loving, romantic self because he missed me and he’s glad I was willing to give him a chance. But, you know what? I’ve gone through the drama and I’m not falling for it again. I just laugh and I’M the one reminding HIM we’re just friends. I am putting realism ahead of romance.

  35. espresso says:

    It’s really all quite simple in a way. As the poster says, you don’t need to judge “someone” just judge the situation even if it means judging you out of it for your own self preservation. I like what you said SwissMiss – you can see that the ex was same old, same old and suddenly it wasn’t so emotionally fraught anymore…you saw him clearly and you aren’t interested. I do see my ex clearly and am not interested but I don’t have that detachment yet so I still feel pain when he is hurtful to me or manipulates or when I have to do everything regarding the separation (except painting the deck – he did that). I want to be where you are sooooo badly. It is like rock climbing and I just can’t seem to jump over that last crevasse.

  36. Jaime says:

    Hello– I just found this site – was recommended to me by a friend… Haven’t had a chance to read much yet, but you all seem very kind and supportive, and I’m sure you’ve all had the experience like me where at a certain point, it feels like your friends- even the best ones- are tired of hearing about your breakup and you have no one to talk to. This post definitely rang true with me: “You may feel that if you had certain conditions such as an environment where you had the security of the love and trust of another person, that you would be loving, loyal and trustworthy in return.”

    My boyfriend broke up with me about 6 weeks ago. At the risk of repeating what most of you have all gone through- I just cannot imagine what he thinks he will find out there better than me. For him, specifically. I know – and he finally admits- that it is more himself getting in his own way than anything I did (although that’s what he tried to tell me and himself at first). We’re not super young or inexperienced- both divorced, in our early 40s, with kids. Far enough from the divorces to be ready (in theory) to love again. I would never EVER have let my daughter get close to him and his kids if we hadn’t talked about marriage and a life together. But we did and I did. And he is the one who drove this relationship at the pace it went- he is the one who pursued me more than me him.

    But issues re-surfaced for him- fear, etc. – that he thought he’d resolved before me. And unfortunately, although they’re not directly about me, I feel like I’m being punished for them because they came up for him when he was with me- probably because I’m the first person since his divorce that has had any real potential for him. We talked about going to counselling together, then he flipflopped. I’ve written him emails reminding him what we had (I know, it probably goes against what you’d recommend – but it actually had an effect, to the point where he told me last week they were too heart-wrenching and he needed me to stop – but they caused him to re-think breaking up with me and really take a closer look at me and the things he was telling himself were my fault when in fact, they’re from a previous relationship). I’ve got dozens of love notes from him talking about a future together- all the way up until right before he broke things off. He is the real deal (and no, I don’t think there is someone else). And he’s the first one I’ve been serious about a future with since my divorce.

    I think he’s scared and the reason this post resonated is that I feel so strongly we were meant to be together (and you don’t know me, but I do not say this lightly- I’m totally risk-averse, I’d believed that all the good ones were already taken, I don’t jump into things and am not a Pollyanna. I’m very practical and have never thought there was a specific soul-mate out there for me for 40 years- until I met him.) – he thought so too, but he’s scared and letting his issues get in his way. And I’m pissed! How often does someone so good for you come into your life? how dare he not grab this chance, when he admits he will probably regret ending things with me and most of us never ever get this kind of chance in their lives? How often do you say you have a great girlfriend who fits and accepts you in every way and in the ways she doesn’t, she is willing to put forth effort cheerfully and go to therapy (which I think every couple should do) to discuss any other issues? Who is willing to wait while you get your shit together and work on it with you?? I’ve got enough experience to know that no one is perfect. You choose someone you love being with despite their imperfections (which you decide ahead of time you can work with or accept) and then you go to work- together- to keep it good and improve it. HOW CAN HE NOT GRAB ONTO WHAT WE HAVE LIKE I’M READY TO??? Since he admits I’m so good for him….?

    I feel like I’m dying inside. I didn’t feel this bad when my 8 year marriage ended- because deep down I knew my ex wasn’t ideal for me. This one is. I know I sound like someone who is grasping at something that isn’t there – but it is- it was, at least.

    My emails and gentle contact after he called things off made him sit up and take notice. They made him cry and open up to me. But he’s not ready to change his mind. I know all the “wisdom” out there- and maybe here too, is to go no contact. That that will bring someone to you if they’re inclined. But that is not what has worked so far with him. He’s got abandonment issues and told me no one has ever fought for him like I have- or made him feel like he’s more than he thought he could be as a man. Now that he asked me last week to have “radio silence” (and please know that I have not been calling and texting him all the time- when we’ve talked it’s almost always because HE initiated, not me. I have just sent a few heartfelt emails that were not asking for responses, just thoughts I had- no begging or pleading to take me back, more along the lines of “have you considered this?” or “let’s be straight about what we need to work on, but remember how much good there is here”, etc.) and we would talk mid-this week- but he hasn’t contacted me. I don’t know what to do.

    I have chosen to hang in there for weeks and show him that I am here, that I’m not running away in the face of things we – and he- would need to work through. I’m not abandoning him. And he hasn’t told me to go away completely. I think he’s struggling- but what do you do when someone is terrified of being abandoned and they ask you for space? What if he forgets about me? What if the thing he really wants is for me to keep showing up and not running away like everyone else has? I have too much self-respect to do this forever, but I’m willing to hang in a bit longer- I’m choosing to, not feeling like I have no choice- because he’s worth that much to me.

    I have lost my appetite (unheard of for me) and can barely work. I can’t motivate to do one proactive thing at work (which worries me because I cannot afford to lose my job- I don’t think anyone has noticed yet and my boss seems ok, but despite my worry, I can’t bring myself to do more than the most basic tasks and I have no interest in anything there), and although I’m also doing all the right things (exercising, trying to see friends, spending time with my daughter, seeing my therapist as needed), I am DYING inside.

    I know probably all of us here think we have a unique situation- and I do too… I’ve thought of sending him one more (non-begging!) email- and just asking: “I don’t want you to feel abandoned, but I want to respect your request for space…” Anyone had experience with this type of person? I’m just so afraid that the longer he goes with no contact, the “easier” it will get (because, hard as it is to admit, it’s gotten a tiny bit easier for me over the past week, even though I don’t want it to…), and he will convince himself somehow that if he never talks to me again, and looks for someone else, that magically he won’t face these issues in himself with anyone else. It’s not true, unless he chooses to have some shallow relationship, which he’s not the type to be happy with. But something in me doesn’t trust that if I let him have his space, he will come back, if it’s “meant to be”- does that ever really happen??

    thanks for listening, guys. Sorry it’s so long–

    • lizzp says:

      Jaime, I’ll just cut to the chase since your are asking for comments/advice. (1) we cannot control another person’s behaviour, thoughts or feelings, or in simple terms, we cannot convince someone to ‘change their mind’ about us. Only they can convince themselves. Your emails to him show that you want to control his decision whilst your fear that he will forget you is a gut indication to yourself that you already know that you have no such control in reality. (2)It’s not up to you to solve his issues and you are using this to excuse the difficulties you have in giving him the space he has asked for. When someone tells us they want space and asks for no contact we have to respect that. Yes, it can be painful. (3) not many details on length of relationship etc, but your post suggests that you lost your own boundary in some way and the balance tipped over to it being more about him than you, or ‘us’,- perhaps you grabbed the steering column or he gave it to you and you accepted, or he dropped it and you picked up the slack, however it happened it sounds to me like you have being flying the plane for some time…doesn’t bear well for the future if you haven’t been co-pilots. (4) you may well ‘convince’ him to try again…but what do you really want? Because he will never have both feet in it if he comes back on the basis of your convincing. He knows it and you know it. I’d guess you’ll be facing him being off again after a few months/weeks. Also your post suggests there is a fundamental lack of trust in you regarding his fidelity/loyalty and you’d do well to address this – specifically what is ‘yours’ and what is owing to any denial on your part regarding his actual respect for you, his ability to commit and actually do a co-piloted mutual relationship and his interest in you.

    • Teddie says:

      But Jaime,going by what you’re sharing, it is you that is the abandoned one. You are also displaying the natural reactions that go with this. What more does he have to tell you? “Radio silence” says it all. It means NC. And NC is the best course you can take. Leave him to his demons, and put your focus on dealing with the abandonment you are going through.And take him off the pedestal you’ve put him on. Hugs!

      • Jaime says:

        Thank you all for being so kind in reaching out to me. It really means a lot right now because I’m feeling very alone. Teddie- you’re right, I’ve been abandoned after someone promised me (and was the one to first suggest) he’d be around forever. Again, not knowing me, this probably sounds like I’ve totally idealized some guy who’s not worth my pain or attention, but it was HIM who brought our families together, who talked about a life together before I was going to bring it up, etc. I just can’t understand how the person who seemed to be more invested in the relationship (as my mom said, she thought if anyone was going to break things off, it would’ve been me because he was SO in love with me…) is the one who ended things. It just keeps defying reason to me.

        • Teddie says:

          Jaime, he fast-forwarded and future-faked you for the short-term gains he needed at the time. Then, when the time came to deliver on the expectations he’d created, he retreated, because he could cover up his limited capacity for relationships only for so long. Pretty standard scenario with the same trite mind-tricks you’ll be reading about on this site that hundreds of BR-readers have been on the receiving end of. Natalie has them all pegged so precisely. Stick around, before long you’ll have pieced it all together. But for your own sanity, go NC!

    • grace says:

      Everyone handles breakups differently, but they’re nearly always painful unless you jump straight into another relationship.
      It seems that you don’t want to break up but get back together. I won’t comment on the wisdom of that (can’t throw stones there) but … the ball is in his court. He knows how you feel. If you can do it I recommend a month of nc, it will clarify how you both feel. And at least it will stop you chasing him. The bottom line is HE broke up with YOU.
      Yes, a few times men came back after breaking up with me. They are capable of calling you to meet you or even dropping by. There’s no need to make excuses for him, it’s not that hard if he wants it. Unfortunately it’s not for us to decide what they should want.

    • Wiser says:

      Jaimie, Welcome to BR and please take the time to read some of Natalie’s posts. And then read the comments. There are some fabulous, smart, strong people who comment regularly here and you will gain a lot of insight from them.

      Your situation is one of the hardest ones to deal with and quite common too: a good guy who “seems” to be the ONE is slipping away, and it’s apparently due to nothing more than his own damn ambivalence. You think to yourself, all I have to do is show him what he’s giving up and he’ll suddenly see the light, slap his forehead and say “Dear God, what was I thinking?!” But ambivalence and fear is not a small thing. It’s a big red flag. It points to, sorry to say, a lack of strong enough feelings for you to commit for the long haul. It is essential that he WANT TO BE WITH YOU and that this is clear in his mind, as opposed to a lukewarm “well, let’s try again and see what happens…” The ball really is in his court. Overcoming his fear is HIS issue and HIS battle to fight, not yours. What he does about this will tell you a lot about his maturity and character. He needs to come to you on his own accord having worked it through, not because you “convinced” him of it or he otherwise “gave in” due to weakness, passivity or weariness. Or he says to himself “I don’t like being alone and I know Jaimie loves me…oh what the hell, I might as well go back to her.” You do NOT want a man on those terms, believe me.

      Sounds like you’ve already done all that can be done from your side – you’ve expressed your feelings and how much you love and want him. What more can you do?Now you need to go NC and stay NC, but not as a tool to get him to “come around.” You do this to protect yourself and gain some breathing room. It really will help you with that feeling like you’re dying inside. If he does forget you and his feelings fade, well then they weren’t true and strong to begin with. Time to pray about it and have trust that if it’s meant to be, it will be. Or a better affirmation I like is “Whatever happens, I will be ok.” And then let go. So best of luck and let us know what happens!

      • Jaime says:

        Thanks Wiser. That’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do– if only I could remind him of all the things HE talked about (who talks about moving closer – this is not insignificant- we have kids in schools far apart and live 40 min away from each other – but he had a plan for it before I even brought it up– who does that? That’s what I’m saying- if you talk about inability to commit, it’s almost like he was the reverse. It was me who was slower and more cautious – he was all in from Day 1… and it never ever slowed down- I didn’t carry anything in the relationship, HE did, if anyone- someone else mentioned that. What I did was take a risk and push myself in a way that I wanted to grow, which was in letting myself believe that I could find happiness with someone and trust enough to let them in instead of being so scared I wasn’t able to be emotionally intimate. That’s another irony here- I grew in some ways that were really important to me in terms of being in a healthy relationship- I opened myself up and stretched myself in ways I know I need to. And it grew our relationship- it feels like the biggest bad joke in the universe for me to have done that and have things turn out like this- exactly reinforcing my old fears.)

        I hear you when you say he won’t forget about me if his feelings are real, but don’t you think sometimes people can be so afraid that it’s easier to hide from something – in this case, I think his fear that our relationship had so much potential that he panicked and was afraid of “failing” (his word) again and it was easier to stop it than risk it not working out. I’m probably answering my own question, but I feel like if one of his major fears is being abandoned, and he vocally appreciated me fighting for him because no one has ever done that- isn’t it possible that that’s actually what he wants to see from me again? I took a huge risk in putting forth the effort after he broke up with me, and it seemed to pay off. Do I stop doing what was working just because he asked for space? I’m having a very hard time with this when he validated that my effort was what was making a difference in his thinking…

  37. Tinkerbell says:


    I really understand what you’re going through in terms of “losing” a good guy. The difference is that I WAS THE ONE WHO “turned off”. That’s the only expression I can think of because it wasn’t actually NC since neither of us could stick to it. But, I took some time out. I was very heavily invested in this man and because I felt that I was not getting enough from him I took a break for my own mental health. BUT he initiated the reunion. He had/has an issue of sexual inadequacy and because I felt deeply in love with him I was trying to get him to overcome his loss of manly confidence and ability to satisfy me. There was nothing I could do to change him. Leaving him alone for awhile was, apparently, the best thing to do. During the break, I reevaluated what I absolutely needed from him and what he was able to give. Believe me, I felt deeply sad, hurt, frustrated, angry, all the negatives, but I realized that our FRIENDSHIP could transcend his issue and my reactions. Now, I am much older than you and at the stage in my life where, having had quite an active sex life as a younger woman my needs are now changed from what they were then. I value caring, devotion, sincerity, trust, reliability, consideration and affection much more than a passionate love affair. With him, I needed to decide what was most important to me. I knew he loved me but I wanted him to be passionately in love which was asking the impossible since he was dealing with this newly discovered problem. After about 2 weeks, we are back together, now. Both of us are very happy and we cherish what we DO HAVE. He DOES love me. It’s just different for him. I’ve redefined what I need out of the relationship. Both of us are happy because I’m not pressuring him to be something or someone he cannot be, and he has always been very happy with me. Our friendship and mutual appreciation of each other means more to me than anything because we deeply ENJOY each other. The more I was pushing and pressuring him to be “more” to me, the more he was digging in his heels and not budging. So now I’m letting him come to me of his own free will, and he is doing that. Before now I was carrying the ball, making suggestions about seeing him, what activities we participated in, constantly verbalizing my love in various ways,etc. Now, I’m no longer doing all of that. Both of us are more relaxed because there’s no pressure. I’m more acutely aware of his idiosyncracies, whereas before I was so busy dumping on my big shovel of love onto him that I wasn’t really noticing him as much as I thought I was at that time. My observations were more superficial without much assessment. For example, I’ve noticed that under all that positivity and laughter, he defintely has his insecurities which come out in little ways. I’m happy to give him the reassurance that I’m there for him, that I’m not going anywhere, but not in excessive. I give him a chance to want to be with me, talk to and enjoy me as an individual. I’m less intense and it’s working out very well.

    Now Jaime, I know HE broke up with YOU, the r/l between you two is different from mine. But, I told you all of this so you can pick out parts of it that can possibly work for you. I understand from what you’ve said that he broke up with you not because he didn’t care, but because he was dealing with his own issues, insecurities, fears, etc. At this point, imo you need to back off. Get on and be busy with your own life. Decide within yourself – and here’s the hardest part – that whatever he does or does not do you WILL NOT be devastated because you cannot control the outcome. Let it be, naturally. LET HIM COME TO YOU. Good luck and take care of YOU, FIRST. Let us know how it’s going.

  38. Jaime says:

    Thanks you, Tinkerbell, for sharing your story. In many ways, you were more like my guy in our relationship. He was the one putting forth most of the effort and – I don’t know how old you are :-) – but I’ve always been an old soul. I value the same things you do, because those are the only things that last- and he has them all in spades. And I knew he had old demons- I could see them, but I’m also not perfect and a “work in progress”. (and I’m not arguing with you or in any way invalidating your experience- ) but I never wanted him to change, only keep working on what he was already working on, which was healing these parts so he could be happier. The irony is that I was not trying to make him anything he wasn’t- for the very first time for me in a relationship, I was able to accept someone fully for who they were, the good and the bad. This is again something I needed to work on and do differently because it was a problem in my marriage, part of what I contributed to its failing. And I just keep thinking “dammit, how could I have made this progress, this stuff that I needed to grow into, and done all this work that is finally coming to be put into a real relationship, and this one isn’t working???” Thinking that, if I could improve the things I did wrong in the past, that it would move me to a place where I was ready for the right kind of person and relationship. So why didn’t it work??

    I know there’s another person in this equation. I’m afraid if I let him be, he will find it easier to tell himself these fears and issues he’s surfacing were unique to me and go back to dating casually because it’s easier. I know what you guys will say about that– but it still sucks. It sucks to think of the man who said he wanted to marry me going out with other women. The man who told me a few weeks ago as he cried, that he missed ‘his’ little girl (my daughter)– who can feel that way and do this?? And it is genuine- his feelings. How can someone feel so strongly and do this? I can’t reconcile the two. Is it possible for his fear to be SO strong that it overcomes the depth of his feelings for me?

    Tink- you said to “Decide within yourself that whatever he does or does not do you WILL NOT be devastated because you cannot control the outcome.” How do I do that?? I am devastated already. I can’t seem to change that right now. My therapist described getting through this time like you would “move through a very bad flu”- that it will take how long it takes and you have to just get through it. But it sucks. I can’t seem to stop crying- and it’s been 6 weeks… I didn’t mention that in the ensuing time he’s again talked about a future together, how much he misses getting our kids together for dinner every Sunday night, going to counseling, that he loves and misses me terribly, etc. So I’ve had – not the cleanest break (which is maybe why my feeling horrible hasn’t gotten much better). I got my hopes up several times since he broke it off because the things he was saying and doing swung back and forth, like he was fighting with himself, his demons, and his love for me. Which is again what makes me feel like I was on the right track- because he only started doing that after my emails reminding him of what he was letting go, etc. That he was going to try to just go hide away and avoid dealing with these fears, but I drew him out. With someone like this, who questions his decision when I put that stuff out there- is NC really the way to go??

  39. Jaime says:

    And, I’ve got his stuff, which he insisted on leaving at my place months ago. Clothes, shoes, etc. He knows I have them, yet hasn’t asked for them back. Right after, we discussed returning them, but never did. I know they’re important to him. He could ask me to drop them off or send them (he has a few of my things too, which I haven’t asked for back). Why wouldn’t he ask for them if he’s done? Is this a way of keeping a foot in the door?

  40. Tinkerbell says:


    Yes. As long as you have his things, he has a reason to come back. He’s keeping his foot in the door. What he intends to do is the question. You describe some very poignant seemingly meaningful moments with him. I definitely can relate to your confusion. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve spent a huge amount of time confused, frustrated and crying VERY OFTEN, until I just couldn’t continue lie that. I took a break. He got me back and we’re very happy. Jaime, I don’t know what to tell you to do except that you cannot go on indefinitely loving him so deeply, he loving you and it’s not working. There is a crucial element missing. You have to find out what it is. I had at least 6 consecutive weekly sessions with my therapist and the were about he and I exclusively. She helped me to face some painful stuff that I did not want to face. But, being back with him I’m happier and more at peace because I’ve known almost since day 1 that he was a “keeper”. But, I am a very mentally strong person. I was not going to go back and resume the r/l without any changes. The break (separation) in itself has served to greatly reduce the emotional intensity I had before. I had to get control of it. And I did. Bottom line, Jaime, be happy that you have a professional to help you with this. If you’re not in it already I would recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Read Nat’s posts avidly and seek other self help materials. Keep me posted. (Hugs, xoxo) Tink

    • Jaime says:

      Thanks Tinkerbell. (I saw a reference in an old post of Nat’s referring to a forum – is there one here btw? I found some others but relate much more to you; I would’ve responded sooner but our dog, who’s been with us for 12 years, took a turn for the worse yesterday and my ex-husband and I had to put him to sleep. Terrible day. :( ) But to your point- I do realize what would need to change- much of it being him doing work he needs to do and me raising some other concerns that need to be addressed- communication styles, etc. – for it to be the r/l I want and need. But doesn’t stop me from wanting him now, unfortunately. Yep, I’m all over CBT and seeing her every week at this point for support. I will also be reading more of Nat’s posts here– agree with so much of what she says, although some of it is hard to hear…

  41. Tinkerbell says:


    Don’t bother with any relationship gurus that advise all sorts of tricks, games and everything but voodoo to “get back your man”. It’s BS. I can recommend some reading for you. And, I’m not anybody’s psychologist, just a couple of books that helped me. Right now it’s my bedtime, 12am in the US.

    • Jaime says:

      Yeah, I’ve seen those- don’t worry. I’ve made it up myself til now and the only tool I have left is NC. I love reading recs- not sure how to get in touch with you directly or the etiquette about that here- I’m new so don’t want to do something that you’re not supposed to like put my email… But I also know we’re not supposed to post endlessly about our own stories on the blog… Advice appreciated here because I would really like to connect with anyone here in a way that’s “allowed” :-).

      So I couldn’t help it- I texted him that we were losing our dog yesterday because he loves him, too and I felt horribly alone. He responded immediately with “do you need to talk?” and I declined. It would be too weird and I was too vulnerable. I thanked him and called my BFF to come be with me (having to have my Ex-H at my house was stressful enough) instead. He continued to “check in” every several hours but used phrases like “how are you holding up?” and “be well, Jaime”. He did say “just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you,” but most of the phrases made me want to cry- they were something you’d say to an acquaintance or something :-(. Each time I waited at least 30 min to a couple hours to respond and responded briefly with things like “thank you.” It was sooooooo hard not to jump all over his offer to talk and lean on him but I knew that right now, he would not be giving me what I really want and I would likely end up being sorely disappointed and more depressed than I already was.

      Hopefully my responses and “thanks but no thanks” don’t work against me… I know NC isn’t to get them back, but yes, I’m still in that mindset while also intending to keep doing the other healthy things for myself. I spent last night and today with my two best friends and am trying not to be alone, spending time with my daughter, etc.

  42. Elgie R. says:

    “When we stay and feel paralysed, miserable, and dependent on trying to control the uncontrollable by hoping that a person or situation changes so that we don’t have to, there’s a cost to this. There’s also a cost when we stay and decide that we will be and do all manner of things to maintain our decision to stay and end up deeply compromised. This makes it tough because not only is it scary to go but we think, Jaysus! I’ve only gone and twisted and contorted myself into all sorts of things in order to stick around and even that didn’t work. Feck! You know what? I’m going to stay and try and go bankrupt trying to get a return on investment.
    There’s a cost to leaving but there’s also a cost to remaining.”

    Jaime, I took this quote out of Natalie’s latest post because it speaks directly to your situation, imo.

    I wish I could give you some magic words to erase that man from your mind. Please…..give yourself some time off from thinking about him! Clean out a closet. Reorganize your kitchen. Move some furniture around. Do SOMETHING other than obsess on what you can do to make things the way you fervently believe they should be between you and him.

    I’ve been there. My first real heartbreak, where the guy left me in the throes of my loving him, took me 18 months to really get over him. Some really painful moments…but I did heal. And I am not afraid to love again.

    He is not your last chance. Maybe he will be back, but I know you can’t make him come back by trying to script out the future.

    • Jaime says:

      Thanks Elgie- I did read that post and it’s something I’ve thought about- after wishing so much for him to come back, what will I do with him if he does? There would be definite work to be done with us – I know it would not be perfect or easy.

      Thank you for the reminder- I have been trying to be busy- got a list of all of those sorts of things. It’s hard- and I’m doing an ok job- not great, but not terrible. And it’s not like there’s anything I feel like really doing, but staying occupied is better than not…

      I do think of him as my only really good chance, though. I normally get out and do all sorts of activities, tried the dating sites, etc. and had no luck for years. I just don’t meet guys…

      • lizzp says:

        Jaime, I’m only going from my own experience but your story rings many alarm bells, mostly from what you leave out or appear to be uncertain of. I can’t know, but have you asked yourself the following questions regarding your prior relationship?

        – did I know for certain that he was over his divorce? Was he forthcoming about this? Or did I sense a reticence/secrecy in him which I chose to ignore? (you wrote: “I know – and he finally admits- that it is more himself getting in his own way than anything I did (although that’s what he tried to tell me and himself at first). We’re not super young or inexperienced- both divorced, in our early 40s, with kids. Far enough from the divorces to be ready *(in theory)* to love again.”).

        – did he allow me to get to know and mix with his children to the same extent that I allowed him into my own family and into my home? You wrote (“I would never EVER have let my daughter get close to him and his kids if we hadn’t talked about marriage and a life together. But we did and *I did*.).

        – did he introduce me to his friends, colleagues and acquaintances? Did he take up my offers and seem willing to meet my friends, colleagues and acquaintances?

        – did I feel secure and comfortable in his love, care, respect of me? Was there a period of time leading up to the break up where I felt ‘afraid’ to communicate my needs for fear of his withdrawal?

        Jaime, I ask these questions because in your posts I don’t get a sense of you having felt very secure in the relationship. There is a sense of you convincing yourself, an ambiguity. You are certain he SAID a hell of a lot but I’m wondering if you’ve looked at what he DID because actions do not lie or inadvertently deceive and self deceive.

        Your feelings of desperation and fear come across loud and clear and from that space it is extremely hard to make decisions. I want to suggest Natalie’s posts that explore having the “Honest Conversation” with OURSELVES. I suggest this BECAUSE it really is easier to make decisions on difficult personal emotional issues when we get some distance and clarity on where we have been and where we want to go. His issues and what they mean to HIM seem to cloud over you. It may be time to honestly ask your self if and if yes, then how, you have allowed his issues to compromise you in your prior relationship. I may be missing something here but I just cannot see YOU and your needs much in what you write. I realise this MAY be a sensitive area, so hope you will not read offence here a none is intended. Wishing you all the best.

  43. Tinkerbell says:

    Hi Jaime,

    I was afraid you weren’t coming back. I’m particularly sorry about your dog. I want to get another one because I love dogs so much and have lived with one many years longer than without one.

    OMG, some of your statements sound exactly likw what I went through.

    Jaime, listen to Lizzp. She said that you need to get some distance so that you can gain a clearer perspective on your situation. When you are so deeply embroiled in emotions it’s extremely difficult to make wise decisions and impossible to to utilize any objectivity. Take a break. Only you can determine for how long but a couple of weeks of complete NC is needed here. Instead of creating confusion, like I did, TELL HIM you need a break. After a reasonable amount of time HE WILL contact you if he cares enough to find out how you’re doing. I know you don’t want to do this and don’t feel you will survive this, but you will. If you really have the deep closeness that I have had, this will not push him away. He KNOWS how you feel.
    Bottom line, Jaime, take care of YOU during this time apart, catching up on other stuff which you’ve probably neglected because of your feelings for him.

    You can ask Nat for my email address. I don’t know if it’s allowed. But it’s good that you are here now. Furthermore, you should be getting adequate support from your therapist. No? Make a change. it costs too much financially and valuable time lost to be seeing someone who doesn’t understand and support you adequately. You have to see the trees through the wood. Actions speak louder than words.
    WHY DID HE BREAK UP WITH YOU? Fear, risk are not enough reason when you’ve clearly put yourself out there for him. If he’s EU, (emotionably unavailable) your love is not going to make him available. That requires his own work on himself, likely with a therapist. Why did he back off about going to one with you?

    Ask him the hard questions you don’t want to ask for fear of the answers. Lastly, is this an LDR? Long distance relationship? That’s VERY difficult to maintain. Good luck helping yourself. Hugs, Tink

    • Jaime says:

      Thank you, Tink and Lizzp. Yeah, just a rough couple of days there – you guys are wonderful and I’m not going anywhere unless someone kicks me out!

      I’ll answer you together- I believe he’d been “over” his marriage – her and the relationship- for a long time, but I now think that some of the baggage created in him during the marriage was NOT fully addressed. (him not feeling worthy of love, etc).

      Yes, I was with his kids almost as much as he with mine- only difference is due to our schedules, he saw mine a bit more. He invited me to meet his parents less than 2 months into the relationship – I declined, it felt too soon (they live about 6 hours away), but the next time they came up, I did. They loved me and he told me that they’d never cared for the previous one he was married to or people he dated. I don’t think he said that to make me feel good. And he’d invited me, my mom, and my daughter to Thanksgiving with his whole family before he broke up… so, no lack of introduction there.

      I met several of his friends- not every one, but he didn’t meet all of mine either. We live 45 min apart so yes, it’s an LDR of sorts and our friends are also spread out.

      I honestly have never felt more loved in a relationship- actions, absolutely. Love notes, helping out with my daughter and things that made my life as a single mom easier, flowers, romance, etc. Pretty much every base covered there. So I always felt secure in how HE felt with me (hence my deep confusion and upset). I was more cautious (which may be what you’re reading as “insecure”? not sure-) because I am just a cautious person. And I have never felt so deeply for someone so soon – and he’s the first with real potential, which scared me- I was just scared of it not working out. But not because of him, or him being emotionally unavailable – that was never a question. More just afraid that good things don’t always work out and I’ve had a couple of years of bad things happening. This is a guy who would get up on a weekend and take my dogs out so I could sleep and, unasked, take my car to get washed… He did stuff like that all the time. So yes, actions were there.

      You know, as immodest as this sounds, I feel like I’m further along in my emotional/personal work than he is. I say that because I saw some of his fears/baggage early on and he didn’t seem ready to address it. I did make a conscious decision (and talking over all the while with therapist, who I’ve seen for 15 years- she’s stellar) that I would first try to enjoy myself (sometimes I way over-analyze and trip my own self up) and get to know him and then start to bring these things up- because the relationship was relatively new. But at some point I made a decision that, even with this stuff, I loved him and could be with him while he did this work- if he was willing and able. From signs I saw and things he told me, I thought he probably was. So in other words, although the breakup was a huge surprise, the past issues aren’t- but I know there is no perfect person out there and this was his “flaw” so to speak. There are things we decide we can live with (thinking of you, Tink) and decide whether we’re ok if they don’t change. In our case, I would NOT have been okay with a relationship with him if they didn’t change, but I let him kind of discover them on his own because that’s better than having someone telling you what you need to work on. And I saw him start to do that–

      In the last 2 weeks or so he got into some deep stuff with his therapist. I think he had a little wake up call that these weren’t things about me, but things he needed to figure out that were nagging him from his past- both his childhood and his marriage. I think it scared the hell out of him- and also made him angry and disappointed in himself because he’d thought he’d already dealt with all of it (he had with a lot).

      Tink, you said fear and risk aren’t enough for a breakup. I don’t totally agree- I think fear, and the kind of mindset he and I both have (where we can think things to death and let our fear rule us sometimes), are very powerful. BUT, your question is good- the last time we talked on the phone 2 weeks ago he said: “Jaime, you’ve given me everything I’ve wanted. You’ve shown me in the past month everything I’ve asked for from you and clearly demonstrated your love. I can’t ask for any more. I will always love you. And I should be running back to you. And I’m not. And I don’t know why.”

      I just wish I knew how he was going to go about figuring this out and whether he will take the hard path to do this, or decide it’s easier to pursue some other relationship because he thinks he won’t run into this stuff with them.

      I am *trying* to pick up and get on with things, but it is so very hard. I feel like I’m slogging through mud and miss him terribly. I’m journaling, everything you can think of. It just sucks right now. (btw, I’m not in GB like I think some of you are, so since I’m hours behind, I am still here, just probably asleep when you’re posting).

    • lizzp says:

      Actually Jaime (and Tinkerbell), Wiser has said it MUCH more clearly than me. It could be worth acknowledging the painful truth (fact?) that whilst he talked of commitment, sent love notes and verbally ‘moved the relationship forward’, he has ACTED on the basis of his ambivalence and fear. I know that this thought brings terrible pain. Jaime, if you can I think you should re-read very carefully what Wiser has said.

      “But ambivalence and fear is not a small thing. It’s a big red flag. It points to, sorry to say, a lack of strong enough feelings for you to commit for the long haul. It is essential that he WANT TO BE WITH YOU and that this is clear in his mind…Overcoming his fear is HIS issue and HIS battle to fight, not yours. What he does about this will tell you a lot about his maturity and character. He needs to come to you on his own accord having worked it through, not because you “convinced” him of it or he otherwise “gave in” due to weakness, passivity or weariness.”

      “Now you need to go NC and stay NC, but not as a tool to get him to “come around.” You do this to protect yourself and gain some breathing room. It really will help you with that feeling like you’re dying inside. If he does forget you and his feelings fade, well then they weren’t true and strong to begin with.”

      Jaime, there is one more thing that may give you a clue to his level of emotional availability – his preferred medium of communication. If he was and still is reliant on text message/email or other forms of digital communication to express his feelings as opposed to face to face and more importantly SHOWING YOU his respect, regard, love and care through actions then this may well be a sign he was and remains emotionally unavailable.

      • Jaime says:

        You’re right, Lizz, that is very, very hard to read. In the end, he did act out of his fear, despite everything we had, and all of the wonderful things he acknowledged. It’s a terrible irony: in the past, he did not listen to his fears and ended up in bad relationships. He’s swung the other way, it seems, and runs away from the hint of fear now. No, I don’t want someone like that. But I want him. I want him if he can get to work on this stuff and exorcise it for good, or make a whole lot of progress on it. It depresses me to write that- because it seems like something that will take awhile.

        I never thought of him as emotionally unavailable. I know that’s the basis of this site, so I’ll go back and read more on that- he was always so forthcoming about his feelings and wore his heart on his sleeve, took a lot of risks to tell me all his feelings, etc…. I think of that as available… And how does text and phone play in to that? I know it’s the best thing to talk in person, but we don’t live next door, so I’m just curious. I think every time he’s seen me, he’s come close to or started to “cave in” because my presence reminded him how he feels about me. As long as I’m not visible, he can convince himself his fears are valid, etc. (which is why I wanted to plant myself in front of him – but I do get all that you’re saying. And I shouldn’t have to convince him of how great I am…)

  44. Jaime says:

    And, it’s so hard to totally not focus on him when my daughter (6) mentions him. I haven’t told her we’re not together- she obviously knows something and frankly, for the first weeks I was hoping we would reconcile. But the phone rang twice today and she said “I hope it’s Bill!” I asked why and she said “because I want him to come over and see us again like he used to.” (small sob- broke my heart). I don’t want to over-explain but she talks about his kids, him, etc. I don’t want to stifle that, but it’s killing me too, to hear her say that and mention them.

  45. gigi says:

    reading this blog every now and then…I think is great and it’s giving me great insight about my relationships.

    Just for the record: I am a MAN :O, and I’ve experienced much of the stuff I read about here.

    Yes, I get treated like shit by women as well as many of you get the same treatment from “assclowns” or EUMs.
    EUWs live on this planet too, now you know 😉

    Love to all of you!

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.